Emigration, not job creation is the cause of the recent drop in the live register figures, and claims of Galway Government TDs to the contrary is nothing but “PR and spin”.
This is the view of Conor Burke, the Anti-Austerity Alliance local election candidate in Galway City East.
New Central Statistics Office data showed the unemployment rate for the west stands at 13.5 per cent, which Fine Gael Galway West TD Seán Kyne said is a drop from the “all-time high” of 17 per cent in the second quarter of 2011, and is down 1.8 percentage points from the 15.3 per cent recorded in the comparable quarter of last year.
“The figures demonstrate that the Government’s plan to encourage job creation in every way possible is working,” he said.
However Mr Burke said the reason for the drop is not job creation but the record level of emigration which is seeing “one person leaving the country every six minutes”.
He said the Budget, which saw social welfare cut down to €100 for those under 25, sent “a clear message to young people that they’re not welcome here. This message is reinforced by Labour Minister Joan Burton’s department in sending letters to the unemployed advising them to seek work abroad”.
However the figures did show that employment rose by 3.2 per cent in the year to the third quarter of 2013. Furthermore, as Dep Kyne pointed out, the west’s participation rate – the number of people aged 15 or over in the labour force as a percentage of the whole population – is 63.1 per cent in the west, the highest in the State, including Dublin, and the highest seen in the west since the third quarter of 2009.
Mr Burke acknowledged this, saying “any increase in jobs has to be welcomed”, but he said it must not be forgotten what kind of jobs these are.
“The majority are either low wage service sector jobs, seasonal tourist based jobs, or short term contract work,” he said. “The majority of these jobs offer no long term security for workers. On top of this, the scale of job creation is a mere drop in the ocean of what is actually necessary to seriously relieve the unemployment crisis.”
Mr Burke was also highly critical of the Jobsbridge scheme. He said a person on Jobsbridge is paid less than half the minimum wage rate with no guarantee of employment at the end of the placement.
“The Government is making a concerted effort to paint itself in a positive light in the run up to the local elections next May,” said Mr Burke, “in the hope it can forestall an annihilation similar to that experienced by Fianna Fáil and the Greens.”