Joan has welcomed new CSO data showing unemployment down to 8.4% in April, a drop of 1.3% since the same time last year. The number of people unemployed fell by 25,700 over the 12-month period.

Joan commented: “When Labour took office, unemployment was on a firm upward trajectory and would peak at 15.1%, with a devastating effect on people’s lives. Tackling unemployment and helping people back to work was therefore our number one priority in Government. Today’s figures, showing unemployment down to 8.4%, are very welcome evidence of the progress made. The number of people out of work fell by 25,700 over the last 12 months alone.  Behind every new job is a person or family benefitting from recovery in their own lives. But much more remains to be done because an 8.4% unemployment rate remains too high.”

Joan said it was crucial that the next Government not allow progress on employment to slip: “We look set to continue posting very strong economic growth, which will create tens of thousands of new jobs, but there are risks, including the possibility of Brexit. It is, therefore, essential that the new Government be formed as quickly as possible and that it ensures helping people back to work remains an absolute priority.”