The long term unemployed in Ireland now account for over half of the number of people out of work, according to the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO).
According to the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey, quoted this week by Breaking News.ie, there were 314,700 Irish people officially unemployed (a dramatic increase of 15,700 on the previous year) by the end of the third quarter.
Alarmingly, long term unemployment jumped by 26.2% or 36,800 people between July and September of this year. Up to 56.3% of out of work Irish people have been jobless for longer than 12 months.
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Not surprisingly, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) described the problem of long-term unemployment as a 'national crisis.'
The Association is calling on the Government to particular emphasis on supporting enterprise which will lead in turn to job creation, they say.
Employers' group IBEC also told the press the sobering new figures underline the fragile state of the Irish labor market.
'Rising long-term unemployment and falling labour market participation means that Government must urgently deliver on reform of the employment services to help people get back into to work and prevent the current high level of unemployment from becoming entrenched,' IBEC senior economist Reetta Suonpera told the press.