01 October 2008

Record Rate of Unemployment

New figures published today show that the number of people signing on the Irish Live Register (to receive unemployment benefit) increased at a record rate of almost 50% in the year to September.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Dublin said that the seasonally adjusted figure for September 2008 was 244,500, an increase of 9,400 from August.

The unadjusted figure fell back by just over 7,000 to 240,217, but the September figure usually drops as students return to college. The unadjusted figure is up 49.5% since the same period last year, beating the previous month's record rise of 42%.

The unemployment rate moved up from 6.1% in August to 6.3%. The monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted figure was made up of 5,800 men and 3,500 women.

Reacting to these figures, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Mary Coughlan (photo) said "the downturn in the economy inevitably leads to an increase in the number of unemployed".

(Well, such pearls of wisdom I would not have expected from her...)

She said that the national employment and training authority FÁS - which is still under investigation for imprudent use of money and overspending on their budget - would have to be "refocused to allow people who fall into unemployment to immediately sign up to training services with the agency".

She stressed that the "job pipeline" looked good with new announcements to be made in the coming weeks, adding that the measures being taken this week by the government will copper fasten the country's position and create a sustainable economy.

Foreign direct investment would continue to remain strong and see "greater growth between now and the end of next year", the Tanaiste said.

She described the government's support for banks as a bold move which would send out a strong message to the world. New opportunities across the globe were continually being examined and the latest move by the government was "a clear signal that Ireland is still very much open for business".

Well, these are nice words, but we have heard the likes of them before. What we now want to see is a realistic policy towards greater prosperity and higher levels of employment. The widespread policy of 'outsourcing' work to the lowest bidder (which is often in China or some other Asian country) is destroying not only many jobs, but also undermines the skill level in this country. We have to realise that getting things made for the cheapest price might not be the best solution and only creates more costs for the whole of society.

We should have pride in our skills, experience, artisanship and inspirations. And if producing the things we need at home makes them a little bit dearer, so be it. We have at least jobs that way in our country and economy, and that means also stability, prosperity and happiness.

A Chinese worker cares for China and not for Ireland. He is paid little to work fast and fearless, and European quality levels are not on his mind. So he will produce what we need, but the level of product quality is falling steadily throughout our markets since the 'outsourcing' began. Let's be sensible and make sure we have an industry and economy left when the recession is over.

The Emerald Islander

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