Cowen Tells Daíl Of Record-Breaking Unemployment Levels

The Taoiseach has told the Daíl that Live Register figures for January showed the highest increase on record.

During a special two debate on the €2 billion budget deficit, Mr Cowen told the house that unemployment claimants rose by a record 36,500 during last month alone, and that 327,861 people were now claiming jobseekers payments.

The total number of people seeking employment is now higher than at any other period in the history of the State, even eclipsing the numbers recorded in the early 1990s as today's workforce is significantly larger.

The increase in state benefit payments and decrease in income tax contributions has left a glaring hole in the public purse, to the tune of €2 billion.

But the bad news continued as Mr Cowen added that the number of people in receipt of unemployment benefits is likely to exceed 400,000 by the end of the year.

Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny said the figures were "quite catastrophic" and would have "horrific social consequences".

Fine Gael Enterprise Spokesman Leo Varadkar said more than 12% of the workforce will be unemployed by the end of the year.

"The scale of job losses now underway is truly shocking. To put it simply: Ireland is not working. Viable businesses which need capital to get them through the recession are going to the wall.

"The banks are refusing to extend credit to businesses. In many cases they are withdrawing overdraft facilities."


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