Unemployment still at crisis levels.

Sligo News File Online.

You’d need a hard neck or great faith to seriously take it that economic and social conditions across Sligo and Leitrim are improving to any appreciable extent.

Unemployment remains at crisis levels, earned income in countless cases is at rock bottom, emigration is continuing, poverty is at a record high and families are being forced to rely on a soup kitchen for food.

However, that hasn’t stopped former junior minister John Perry – anyone remember what he was minister for? – or his Labour party colleage, Susan O’Keeffe sketching an upbeat picture of the jobs scene.

In a statement to local media, O’Keeffe has said the Live Register for last month showed the progress “we”-we take it she means Fine Gael-Labour – are making in Sligo and Leitrim in getting people off the Live Register and into work.

“Unemployment,” she said, “does not fall without a concerted effort by government and local organisations.”

Perry has said in his statement that the Coalition was given the task of getting the country back on its feet and the Live Register figures now show “economic recovery is real and is resulting in people getting back to work.”

Neither of them has apparently chosen to comment on the social conditions under which people are struggling to survive or why they think businesses in Sligo, Ballymote and elsewhere have been collapsing this last few years of Coalition imposed austerity.

So, let’s see it as detailed by experts at the coalface, the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed.

This is their reaction  to the Live Register figures:

“Some people are finding work, some people are re-entering education and training, many people have emigrated and others are no longer on the register as they did not make the transition from Jobseekers Benefit, the social insurance based payment, to
Jobseekers Allowance, the means tested payment.

“Even allowing for this, the percentage of people in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance is growing in comparison to Jobseekers Benefit. This is particularly striking for people aged under 25 years of age.

“In October 2008 Jobseekers Allowance accounted for 65% of  young people on the register, in October 2014 this figure stands at 94.3%. And though over that period the numbers of young people on the register has decreased by 5.6%, the numbers of young people in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance has increased by 30%.”

The organisation stresses that for a young person to qualify for a Jobseekers Allowance payment his or her circumstances are also taken into account if living at home. “So not only are many young people surviving with few means so are many of their families.
Finding work is a job in itself and demands resources, resources that are very difficult to come by on a jobseekers payment that is at most €100,” said Brid O’Brien, the organisations Head of Policy and Media.

The organisation also notes that whereas in April 2011 the number on the register more than a year represented 38.5% of the register, the figure is now up by more than 9%, representing 47.7% of the register.