Q2, Q3 Progress Report

DSp-Logo-150x150The central message of this Government has always been jobs.

The consistent drive to get people back to work.

The desire to build a social and economic recovery.

That’s been my focus as Tánaiste and as Labour Party leader.

And that focus is now showing positive results.

Just this week, new figures show unemployment has fallen below 9% for the first time since
December 2008.

This is, in my view, a landmark moment in our recovery.

Employment is now at the highest it’s been in seven years, at nearly two million.

And behind every new job is a person or a family benefitting in their own lives from that wider recovery.

The numbers in full-time employment are up 59,400 in the last 12 months, while there’s been a fall of 3,400 in the number in part-time work.

This means that more than 1,100 people are returning to full-time employment every week.

We’ve now had nine consecutive quarters of falling unemployment.

And I particularly welcome the fact that long-term unemployment is down from 6.4% last year to 5% now.

This is crucial to ensure a generation are not left behind and reliant on social welfare while the economy takes off.

Considering the starting point we inherited, these figure represent quite an achievement.

Driving this has been the twin Government strategies of the Action Plan for Jobs and the Pathways to Work.

The forecasts suggest that our economy will continue to grow, and that more people will return to work.

But we have more to do to bring down unemployment further.

That’s why the next phase of our jobs focus must be about investing in our people.

We have to be prepared to invest in up-skilling our workforce to boost the number of apprenticeships, and to encourage employers to take on more apprentices.

One positive measure that will help on this front is the €2.8 billion school building programme we announced this week.

As well as investing in our children, it will provide thousands of jobs and apprenticeships over the next six years.

In terms of my own Department, I will shortly bring forward the next phases of the Pathways to Work strategy.

It will focus on ensuring jobseekers are equipped to avail of work, training and education opportunities.

We also need to ensure that work pays.

That’s why in the recent Budget we moved to increase the minimum wage.

By the conclusion of this Government, it will have risen from €7.65 per hour to €9.15 per hour – an increase of over €3,000 per year.

I want to ensure that people can earn a living wage that meets their needs and those of their families.

We know too that addressing long-term unemployment and youth unemployment must remain priorities for the coming years.

So while we have achieved success up to now in getting people back to work, the work does not stop there.

Through the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work, we will continue our progress towards meeting the target of full employment by 2018.

And we will build an economic and social recovery that delivers more opportunity and better living standards for our people.

Thank you.