by Alan Jacques
EDUCATION Minister Jan O’Sullivan has welcomed the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office that show a 10 per cent drop in unemployment in Limerick over the past year as positive news for the city.
According to Minister O’Sullivan, the drop shows that sustainable job opportunities are being created but she says she is determined to continue to focus on job creation in 2015 as unemployment in the city still remains too high.
“When we took office in March 2011, the live register in Limerick City stood at 14,589. It now stands at 11,119 – a reduction of 23.7 per cent. Unemployment still remains too high but we have made significant progress and that momentum will be continued in 2015,” she said.
However, Sinn Féin leader on Limerick City and County Council, Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, took a different viewpoint.
The City North councillor maintains that when quoting the CSO figures, it should be remembered that for every job created, five people have emigrated.
He also claimed that much of the drop in the Live Register is attributed to schemes like Gateway, JobBridge, the large amount of students attending third level and those forced to emigrate.
“Since last month, 156 fewer people are on the Live Register in Limerick City but we do not know whether these people secured employment, emigrated, took up training, were forced onto job schemes or were simply cut off from their payments.
“Also much of this fall has resulted in some very low paid positions, many with limited hours of work. Low pay and underemployment being two key challenges in the employment market. 30 per cent of workers in Ireland will earn €20,000 this year or less and roughly half of the State’s workforce are categorised as part-time with 40 per cent of these underemployed,” he said.
“Any recovery built on low wages is a false economy and the speed of recovery has been unacceptably slow. The Government’s four deeply unfair budgets have also meant that what little recovery is taking place is only benefiting those at the top.
“For the vast majority of families, 2015 will start with property tax and water charge bills. Meanwhile the ESRI confirmed that Budget 2015 will actually result in a loss of income for 60 per cent of households with only the richest 10 per cent benefiting in real terms. This is hardly something to be celebrating.”
“People are fed up of Government spin. They want real investment in job creation. They want properly paid employment. The want the property tax and water charges abolished. And they want an end to the unfairness that has been the hallmark of this Government since taking office in 2011,” he concluded.