Varadkar welcomes 16% fall in number unemployed in last 12 months

job-vacancies-550x210-2

Unemployment dropped by 2,500 people every month since January 2016

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed the latest CSO figures showing a further fall in unemployment to 7.1% this January, down from 8.5% at 12 months ago. The Minister has pledged to drive it down further in the year ahead.

The number of people unemployed is dropping on average by 2,500 every month. According to the CSO, in the last 12 months the number of people out of work fell by 29,800, from 184,600 in January 2016 to 154,800 this month, a reduction of 16%.

This follows the news that the Government exceeded its own target to help 20,000 long-term unemployed people back into employment by an additional 6,000 people last year. Unemployment fell at a faster rate in 2016 than in any year since the start of the recovery.

“This is more welcome evidence that the Government’s approach to unemployment is working and it’s a positive way to start the New Year. It makes us all the more determined to help more individuals and families benefit from being at work in 2017,” Minister Varadkar said.

“That’s why in 2017 I intend to move at least another 20,000 people from welfare to work. I also want to make more progress towards our long-term target of reducing unemployment to 5-6%, and reducing long-term unemployment to below 2.5%.

“To reach those targets, 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.”

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.