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In The News: Ireland’s Unemployment Rate

July 1, 2009

Today, the news has been all abuzz that Ireland’s unemployment rate hit 11.9% in June, the highest it’s been in 13 years.  Currently, the Republic of Ireland has the 2nd highest unemployment rate of the 16 nations using the euro (Spain is the highest).  More tellingly, benefit applications for Social Welfare has increased by 11,400 to a record number around 400,000 (source Irish Independent).

What’s missing in the news reports, however, is a breakdown of these unemployment and benefit claim increases.   Personally, as a non-national woman, I would be very interested to see the numbers of how these increases are affecting men versus women, nationals versus non-nationals and other demographics such as age and marital status.  Women as a whole are more likely to be in lower paying and less secure positions due to either the necessity or desire for part time positions, particularly if they have young children.  This leaves us more vulnerable to the cut-backs and redundancies occurring across the country.  Just this past week, it was announced that 105 jobs are going to be lost in Waterford, and 80 workers will be made redudant in Co. Mayo.

This article gives a breakdown of social welfare recipients by area, and gives us this small yet compelling fact,

Unemployment continued to rise among both men and women, with female unemployment rising most steeply in the southeast, by 6pc, and male unemployment rising by 5pc in the mid-west.

There isn’t any analysis of why the unemployment is manifesting like this. However, I’d point out that the southeast of Ireland — ie Leinster — has the highest population of the country with just over 2m; while the mid-west –north Munster and south Connaught — only has about 700k.   This seems very revealing.  Obviously, female unemployment is steepest in high population areas with urban and suburban living, while male unemployment is rising the most in low demographic areas with a predominately rural living.

I’m hoping to join the job market in the next few months here in Ireland, and information like this only serves to scare me, not inform me.  As someone concerned with unemployment I want to see that efforts are being taken to understand the effects of the recession on Ireland’s different populations, not just the blank numbers. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more nuanced approaches, but I’m not too confident they’ll appear.  If anyone sees or has seen them let me know!

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