Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has pledged to strive towards a further reduction in unemployment in the year ahead. He was reacting to the latest figures showing unemployment in Ireland at its lowest rate since 2008.
“In every month last year the unemployment level fell by more than 3,300 people. This is a really significant result for the many individuals and families who were blighted by the crash years, and shows that our policies to tackle unemployment are getting results. This Government intends to make even more progress in the year ahead,” said Minister Varadkar, who is one of the main contenders to take over from Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael.
Unemployment is now at its lowest level since the second quarter of 2008, falling by 21.4% in the 12 months to the end of last year, a drop of 40,000 people to 147,400. Long-term unemployment also fell by 22%, a drop of 2,500 to 79,700. Significantly, the proportion of long-term unemployed also fell, showing that more people are unemployed for a shorter period. I also welcome the fall in youth unemployment.
“This year I intend to move more people from welfare to work, and make more progress towards our long-term target of reducing unemployment to 5-6%, and reducing long-term unemployment to below 2.5%.
“That’s why we will publish the Action Plan for Jobless Families this year allowing us to zero in on long-term and intergenerational unemployment. I will also reform and recalibrate local activation programmes like Community Employment, TÚS and Gateway to reflect the changes in the economy and labour market, and place a greater focus on social inclusion and those who find it hardest to secure and hold down a job. And we will develop and launch a new work experience programme to replace JobBridge,” said Minister Varadkar
Other measures underway include:
• more intensive one-to-one engagements with jobseekers;
• making work pay through sustainable wage increases, effective tax reductions and new social insurance measures like paternity benefit;
• supporting more people to enter self-employment and set up their own business or practice;
• using initiatives like JobsWeek to match jobseekers with employers;
• promoting financial supports like JobsPlus and the Wage Subsidy Scheme;
• and developing initiatives across the whole of Government in education, training, housing and childcare.