One job was lost every minute in Ireland during January, it was reported on Wednesday when the Central Statistics Office announced that 33,000 people signed on the Live Register.
There were 33,000 more signing on the Live Register in January than the previous month as the annual jobless rate rose to 9.2 per cent, the latest figures from the CSO reveal. The seasonally adjusted Live Register total increased from 293,100 in December to 326,100 in January.
In the year to January 2009, there was an unadjusted increase of 146,412 - a rise of 80.7 per cent.
The monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted series consisted of an increase of 22,900 males and an increase of 10,100 females.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned that the situation is probably going to get much worse as the year continues, with some analysts specualting that unemployment could hit 500,000 by year end.
Last evening, ISME said that the government needs to urgently tackle job creation as the country "stares into the abyss" of unemployment.
In response to the figures, ISME Chief Executive Mark Fielding, said that the latest live register figures confirm that the country is “staring into the abyss, with numbers 'signing on' at an all time high and no respite in sight, as economic conditions deteriorate. If current trends continue, up to half a million people could be 'signing on' by year end,” he said.
Referring to the Government's measures to reduce spending, Mr Fielding said that the association is extremely concerned that no specific measures were mentioned to address supporting enterprise and in particular the quest to maintain jobs.
“As the dole queues lengthen and businesses close, it is absolutely essential that initiatives are immediately announced to address our lost competitiveness and in particular the business cost environment, one of the highest in the OECD," said Mr Fielding.
He reserved harsh words for the trade unions, whose response to the current situation is the exaggerated threat of 'revolution'.
“"The level of job losses in the private sector must not be ignored by senior trade union officials, whose ranting about the introduction of a levy on public sector Rolls Royce pensions is risible, when compared to the dire circumstances in the private sector. The unions would be better off putting their efforts into protecting the jobs of their private sector members, rather than undermining the economy with threats of industrial action," he continued.
"If we as a country are to turn this mess around, it is imperative that the Government show decisive leadership, without recourse to the irrelevant social partners, by immediately outlining a comprehensive plan, not just for one year but for five years, to get the economy back on track. This needs to include specific measures to protect enterprise and in turn the thousands of jobs that rely on the business sector, which are currently under threat,” he said.