Unemployment falls to 7.8% in May – Varadkar

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Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed the latest CSO figures showing that unemployment is down to 7.8% in May, the lowest since October 2008, confirming that we have broken through the significant 8% barrier for the first time since the economic crash.

The unemployment level has fallen by 38,300 people since May 2015, down by 1.8 percentage points from 9.6% or 7.8%. There are now 169,700 people classified as unemployed.

“In the last year the number of unemployed people fell by an average of 800 a week. Unemployment has fallen from a peak of over 15% when Fine Gael came to office, to less than 8%. Long-term unemployment has now fallen below 5% for the first time since the financial crisis. This is a legacy of the last Government’s efforts to help people out of unemployment and back into work.

“On a European level, we have come a long way in tackling unemployment, but we have a lot of catching up to do with countries like Germany. So these latest unemployment figures from the CSO are welcome evidence that solid progress is still being made in tackling unemployment and helping people get back to work.

“Nevertheless, while a recovering economy creates more jobs, others will struggle to break into the workforce. There is evidence of rising levels of people who have been unemployed for more than five years. These people lost their jobs during the crisis and can’t get back to work. We know that the longer you remain unemployed, the less likely you are to escape it. That’s why my focus is on activation, on employment and training schemes, and on helping those who need the most help to get back to work.

“We already have targeted programmes in place like JobPath and JobsPlus to help people who have been out of work for a long period. JobPath works intensively with long term unemployed people to help them to return to work. It sets up links with employers, suggests training, and provides help with CVs. It is currently assisting 30,000 long term unemployed people, and we expect this to reach 60,000 people by the end of the year.

“JobsPlus is another important programme which encourages employers to take on long term unemployed people by providing a subsidy to the employer. More than two thirds of the 6,000 people who have used the programme had been unemployed for more than two years. And 95% of those finishing the programme have been retained by the employer.

“The wage subsidy scheme is an important programme which supports employers who take on people with disabilities.

“And in the near future we will be launching the JobsIreland website to provide a one-stop shop for jobseekers.”