A Galway TD has expressed concern at the slower rate of decrease in unemployment among people aged 25 and over compared with those in the younger age group.
Latest figures show that the numbers on the Live Register in Galway continues to drop, with the total of 14,100 people at the end of December representing a 12% reduction on the same time a year ago.
The biggest fall was again in the Loughrea social welfare area (1,339, down 16.6%), followed by Tuam (2,103, down 13.2%), Galway City (7,036, down 12.5%), Ballinasloe (1,679, down 10.8%), Clifden (885, down 8.4%) and Gort (1,058, down 7.5%).
But Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish said that an analysis of the latest figures showed a huge gap between the relative fortunes of those aged under 25 and those aged 25-plus in terms of returning to employment.
“People in the younger age group in Galway appear to be doing much better in terms of finding work, as their numbers have dropped back well below the levels they were at around the time of the so-called boom.
“A lot of that reduction can be attributed to the number of young people who have emigrated in search of work over the past few years, but the numbers on the Register are better than they were even a decade and a half ago and that’s good news.
“But for those aged 25 and over, the picture has not been as good, with women in particular at the lower end of the recovery in employment.
“While the numbers have been dropping, there are 72% more people aged 25 and over on the Live Register in Galway today compared with ten years ago, in December 2006.
“By comparison, there has been a 16% overall reduction in unemployment among men and women aged under 25 in Galway,” added Deputy Grealish.
Nationally, the difference is even more stark, he said, with the numbers on the Live Register at the end of 2016, compared with December 2006, showing a 39% reduction among those aged under 25, but a 95% increase among the 25-plus cohort.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see the figures dropping overall — we had 25,389 on the Live Register in Galway City and County in August 2010 compared with 14,100 today.
“But I am concerned that so many of those aged over 25 who still have not got back into employment are the men and women who are the breadwinners for their families and we need to look at the reasons why they are not faring as well,” said Deputy Grealish.
The Galway West TD recently raised the issue of why the slowest decrease in unemployment was among women aged 25-plus, in a Dáil question to the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar.
The Minister said that during the recession, unemployment rose much more rapidly for men and for young people than it did for women aged over 25. “Inevitably, the recovery has seen the greatest falls in unemployment in those groups that were hardest hit in the recession,” he added.