Unemployment figures do not represent full employment – Howlin

29 August 2018

Speaking in response to yesterday’s Labour Force Survey findings, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that it was welcome to see over 2.25 million people in employment in Ireland, but that there are several serious problems in the labour market that are hidden beneath the surface of the statistics.

“The adjusted unemployment rate of 5.8% does not represent full employment, and there are still tens of thousands of people seeking work who cannot find work. More is needed to provide real opportunities to everyone seeking work, for example opportunities for the nearly 19,000 people over the age of 45 who have been unemployed for over one year. Real opportunities are also needed for the 8,000 young people who are unemployed for more than one year.

“While the economy around Dublin and other urban areas may be doing well, reports indicate that many parts of the country as well as deprived areas within Dublin are not feeling the economic benefits. Unemployment is 7.2% in the South East and 9.7% in the Midlands.

“Ireland’s employment rate of 68% is also much lower than the UK or Nordic countries, where 75% of the population may be in work. What this means is that for many people, especially women, it is simply not financially possible for them to afford childcare if they seek paid employment. While women who choose to work in the home should of course be supported, it should be a choice not a necessity.

“We also need to look more closely at the quality of work that people can access. Labour is concerned at the amount of low wage jobs being created. At least 10% of people are working for the Minimum Wage, many of them also working part-time. Involuntary part-time work also continues to be an issue for many workers.

“Labour supports moving the legal Minimum Wage to closer to a Living Wage of €11.90, as the Living Wage is calculated on the actual cost of living a decent minimum standard of living. With so many workers on less than the Living Wage, we can only conclude that many people at work and their families are experiencing material deprivation.”

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