Job creation and a solution to long term employment remain as elusive as ever.
This region has witnessed a steadily worsening unemployment rate over the past five years. Nationally, the outlook is stubbornly grim. This year alone, nearly 14,000 jobs were lost between April and June.
The unemployment rate is tipping 15 per cent nationwide, and the only reason that it hasn’t exceeded this is due to the droves of people who have left the country to seek work abroad.
Long term unemployment is a significant problem. Up to 190,000 people have been unemployed for more than a year. And the forecast for the immediate future predicts that the figure will remain above 300,000.
Progress on job creation is badly needed. The Government’s stimulus programme is ongoing, but unlikely to yield any tangible results for a year or so. Funding for this programme is reliant on the sale of State assets and foreign investment. It’s imperative that some of these measures are expedited as speedily as possible. A greater sense of urgency is required, especially on the part of the Government.
Elsehwhere, growth and employment is being stymied by factors such as the lack of credit for small and medium enterprises. Even where funding is provided, the lending rates tend to be high - double that of Germany for example.
New and innovative policies are needed to combat unemployment across a broad spectrum of areas. It will take time, but the seeds of tomorrow’s recovery must be planted today.