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Unemployment down 34,600 in last 12 months – Varadkar

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed the latest CSO figures showing that the unemployment rate fell from 9.4% in June 2015 to 7.8% in June 2016, and that unemployment is now at its lowest level in eight years.

In the last 12 months, the number unemployed has fallen by 34,600, from 203,700 in June 2015 to 169,100.

Speaking today, Minister Varadkar said: "This Government continues to make good progress in tackling unemployment, which has fallen from 15% when Fine Gael first took office to 7.8% now. The unemployment level fell by 500 to 169,100 in the last month, the lowest level in eight years since September 2008.

“There were almost continuous monthly reductions in the rate of unemployment for 29 straight months from January 2014 onwards, and it remains steady in June below the key rate of 8%. There has also been significant progress in tackling long-term unemployment.

"There is clear evidence that the country continues to recover from the worst recession ever witnessed by the majority of workers. It reflects our growing economy, and the strong growth in sectors like construction and tourism.

"However, we still have a lot of work to do and are lagging behind several other EU countries. The level of unemployment and particularly long term unemployment is still too high. We could and should be making more progress in assisting those who became unemployed following the crash, and have been unable to find work since. That is why I will continue to work with the Labour Market Council and other experts.

"I am also confident that the package of activation measures that we have in place will continue to produce results and help people back to work.

"These activation measures for people who have been long-term unemployed include JobsPlus, which provides employers with a subsidy to encourage them to take on long-term unemployed people. The vast majority of those who complete the programme are retained by an employer, and some 6,000 people have taken part so far, in most cases after being out of work for more than two years.

"JobPath is another important programme which connects employers with people who are long-term unemployed, helping them with job applications and assisting with training. Some 60,000 people should be referred in JobPath by the end of the year.

"I am also focused on the wage subsidy scheme which encourages employers to recruit people with disabilities. And later this year I will formally relaunch the JobsIreland website for jobseekers."