Sunday, 8 February 2009

Press Release - Recent Youth Unemployment Trends Most Worrying of All - Looney

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate for this year’s local election in Tallaght Central, has blamed government inaction for spiralling unemployment figures, calling for measures targeting young workers and young unemployed people to be implemented immediately. His comments came as national live register figures showed 327,861 people signing on in January 2009, with local figures just as worrying.

Looney, who is based in Greenhills and works in Tallaght, noted that at the Tallaght Social Welfare Office, the signing on centre for people from Dublin 24, an unprecedented 7,261 signed on for jobseekers allowance and benefit in January. This was 745 higher than in December, yet again marking the biggest monthly increase in unemployment in Tallaght this decade. Extraordinarily, there has been an increase in the Tallaght office alone of over 3,000 in the last year.

Looney highlighted the increasing youth unemployment rate as a cause for particular concern. There were 1,767 under 25’s signing on in Tallaght in January – an increase of 171 in just a month.

Looney also noted the increase at the Bishop’s Square Welfare Office, used by people in the Dublin 12 and 6w parts of the ward, which saw the number of those signing on increase from 5,652 in December to 6,342 in January – a jump of 690. The figures for this office are almost 3,000 up from January 2008.

“The current employment crisis is threatening any social gains made across this area in recent years,” noted Looney, “and will hit working-class communities the hardest. I have talked to countless young people and their families who are most at risk, hearing heartbreaking stories of despair. Even emigration is not an option for many young workers given the global jobs crisis. ”

“Nobody needs reminding that during the 1980’s more than one in four young people were on the dole, that many had to emigrate, and that this part of Dublin became an economic blackspot. Now that those days have returned it’s time for urgent policies which stem the flow. Labour’s proposals for an economic stimulus package would put thousands of construction workers back to work on vital national projects such as a nationwide school buildings programme and environmental retrofitting schemes.”

"We should use the €14 billion in the European Social Fund for youth retraining, education and increasing mobility between sectors and access to the labour market for young people. Here at home, we need to implement new welfare to work initiatives and active labour market programmes as a matter of urgency, supported by decent provision of childcare and education places."

"For more established and older workers, the INOU's call for an early warning system for redundancies will provide the time to attract other investment or retrain workers before they lose their jobs. Community Employment schemes, particularly for the long-term unemployed, must be maintained and developed, and talk of prioritising the high-tech sector can’t be allowed to exacerbate social exclusion in working class communities - meaning that no further cutbacks at any level of education are acceptable."