The number of people signing on the Live Register in Westmeath has dropped by 18 per cent in the last year, Fine Gael TD Peter Burke has said.
Unemployment has fallen steadily from a peak of 16 per cent in 2012 to six per cent in February 2018.
As of last month, there are 1,292 people working in Westmeath who were unemployed last year.
“It is very positive to see that the number of people signing on the Live Register in Westmeath has reduced,” said Deputy Burke. “Ireland is a stable, competitive, secure economy that is open for business.”
“Furthermore, since Fine Gael’s Action Plan for Jobs was launched in February, 2012, the Westmeath Live Register has decreased locally by 41 per cent. This is 4,160 people who are back making a living, to the benefit of themselves, their families and the local communities in which they live,” Deputy Burke continued.
“We can see clearly that the Action Plan for Jobs is continuing to work. Recent jobs data indicates that there are 48,100 more people at work since this time last year. Our enterprise-based economy is now creating over 900 jobs a week.”
Deputy Burke also pointed out how jobs are growing in rural Ireland, with nine out of 10 jobs created in the past year being outside of Dublin, and seven out of 10 created outside the commuter belt counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
Nevertheless, critics still point to a divide between Dublin and rural Ireland. The Midlands region had the smallest increase in IDA supported jobs in 2017, and just two per cent of Foreign Direct Investment jobs nationwide are situated in the region.
There also still exists a massive disparity in IDA grants. Dublin received €20 million in grant aid in 2016, but Roscommon received €3.4 million since 2007. Labour TD Willie Penrose called the Midlands region the “forgotten child” for job creation last year.
Deputy Burke, however, is optimistic about the future.
“Project Ireland 2040 aims to ensure that Ireland is ready for the future with a society that has sustainable and balanced growth, nurtures talent, serves the welfare of our people, and offers opportunity for all. We are moving towards full employment and we will ensure that all parts of Ireland can share in our prosperity and economic growth, including here in Westmeath,” he concluded.