ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, in welcoming the slight increase in job numbers announced in the Quarterly National Household Survey released today (27th February), still expressed concern at the high rate of long-term unemployment. The Association called on the Government to prioritise job creation and demanded that anomalies in social welfare be addressed to encourage the long-term unemployed to return to work.
The Quarterly National Household Survey, the official recording of the labour force, confirmed that an extra 61,000 jobs were created in 2013. However, there are 253,200 people currently in unemployment, a decrease of 29,700 on the previous quarter. This is the sixth quarter in a row to show a reduction in unemployment. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate currently stands at 12.1%, however 61.4% of unemployed persons fall into the long-term unemployed bracket.
According to ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding, “Job creation and job retention must continue to be the main aim of the Government, which must address the fundamental issues preventing businesses from increasing employment: the inept social welfare system, black economy, high business costs, bureaucracy and a lack of credit”.
“While these issues have been well flagged for a considerable period, little progress has been made in addressing these obvious employment constraints and the Government must renew its commitment to solving these issues. The introduction of additional training courses and back to work schemes is helpful but they alone will not create jobs.”
The Government can address the concerns of smaller businesses, the main job creators by;
Focussing on cost competitiveness, with a concerted effort to tackle business costs, including local charges, energy, rents and transport costs.
Addressing the lack of bank credit available in the economy.
Sorting out the real inefficiencies in the public sector, to reduce the tax burden.
Tackling the ‘unfit for purpose’ Social Welfare system and the surge in the black economy.
“It is vital that the Government does not shirk from the significant task in hand, in particular addressing long term unemployment. By reducing state influenced business costs they will assist in addressing the issue of joblessness that will determine the future of generations to come.” concluded Fielding.