THE NUMBER of people claiming unemployment benefit in Limerick continues to rise, climbing to 26.8% of the city’s population last month, even though the national figure for people signing on to the Live Register has stabilised.
The figure is one of the highest in the country, affirming Limerick’s reputation as an employment blackspot, as 47% of males in the city aged under 25 are on the register. The number of young women in the city out of work stands at 28%.
Sinn Fein city councillor Maurice Quinlivan said a Government intervention is urgently required, as the city continues to be one of the biggest and longest employment blackspots in the State.
“It’s a growing trend, and it’s quite worrying what’s going on in the city, especially when you take in levels of emigration, which are hard to quantify. I think Limerick does need to be treated differently than any other area of the country. We now have lots of people becoming long-term unemployed, and we have to look at how we get them out of that situation,” he said.
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office for July show that 21,333 people signed on in Limerick, up from 20,810 in June, an increase of 523 within the space of a month.
The latest figure shows that in Limerick city twice as many men as women are signing on, with 15,194 people overall signing on in the city.
The number of people who signed on in the city aged under 25 was 2,634.
The city’s unemployment figure passed the 10,000 mark in December 2008, and peaked at 16,778 in August 2010.
Since then it has continually hovered between 14,000 and 15,000, rising over the latter last month for the first time since last September.
The number of people signing on in Kilmallock also rose slightly to 2,753, and in Newcastle West there was also a modest increase to 3,386.
Nationally 437,300 people signed on to the Live Register in July, down from a peak of 450,000 in September 2010.
The number claiming benefit continuously for more than one year was just over 200,000 in July. On an annual basis, the number of long-term claimants has risen by 10,000. Irish nationals accounted for 83 per cent of the total number of people on the Live Register.
The number of people signing on in Limerick is greater than Clare (10,437), Kerry (16,041), Kildare (19,393), Meath (11,576) and Mayo (13,800).
However, figures are higher for Cork (46,068), Donegal (22,462), Galway (23,585).
Cllr Quinlivan said: “We’re not attracting any foreign investment at all. You’d hope there would be some jobs coming out of the Limerick Regeneration plan but there’s so little of that ready to go, we can’t wait for that to happen. It needs to be treated as a crisis - it is a crisis. Every second young person you talk to is leaving the country and that’s very depressing. It won’t turn itself around, we have to turn it around.”