Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed the significant improvement in the unemployment rate which fell to 8.3% (seasonally adjusted) during the first three months of 2016 and is estimated to have dropped further to 7.9% in April.
“The latest QNHS data shows a significant improvement in unemployment levels, although we still have some way to go and the Government will maintain a strong focus on helping people back to work,” Minister Varadkar said.
“The unadjusted unemployment rate fell from 10% to 8.4% in the 12 months to March, a drop of 33,300 people or 15.7%. This is the 15th quarter in a row where unemployment dropped on an annualised basis.
“The CSO also estimates that unemployment has fallen below 8% in April to 7.9% for the first time since the economic crisis. If borne out by further data, it shows that an important milestone has been passed in reducing unemployment.
“The improvements in long term unemployment are especially welcome, falling from 6% to 4.7% in the 12 months to March. The proportion of unemployed who are out of work on a long-term basis fell from 60.5% in 2014 to 56.1% at the end of March.
“The big increase in the number of people employed in construction over 12 months is significant as this sector saw one of the biggest falls in employment following the crash, and recovery in this area has been slow up to now.
“The significant reduction in unemployment for 15-24 year olds is especially welcome, falling from 21.5% to 16.9% in the 12 months to March.
“In terms of the unadjusted unemployment rate, Ireland (8.7%) compares well to Greece (24.4%) and Spain (20.9%) but Germany and the Czech Republic remain far ahead at 4.5%.
“My focus in the months ahead will be on schemes such as JobsPlus and JobPath, which aim to assist the long-term unemployed to return to the workforce, and the new JobsIreland website which will be launched in the near future. I will also outline plans to replace the JobBridge scheme later this year. Working through its network of Intreo centres, the Department of Social Protection will maintain its focus on linking up jobseekers and the long-term unemployed with employers.”