Burton’s Bullshit: Unemployment Nearly 3% Higher Than Reported

In Blog, Politicsby Oireachtas Retort1 Comment

file: Protest at Joan Burton's office © Paul Reynolds

Protest at Joan Burton’s office © Paul Reynolds

Just this evening, 3,850 Irish visas for Canada were gone in less than five minutes but emigration isn’t the only way Joan Burton fiddles the figures behind Ireland’s unemployment horror. Oireachtas Retort has a poke around. 


Labour Party TDs & ministers were beside themselves last October with claims that jobless figures fell below 400,000 for the first time since 2009. Their steadfast commitment to patronising and coercing the unemployed had convinced thousands to give up the “lifestyle choice”.  Like a mouldy and reheated takeaway we had another round of the same headline last week just in case you didn’t appreciate the fine job they are doing. burtons A recently published and mysteriously ignored report from the Oireachtas Library and Research Service tells a different story for Ireland’s youth. Firstly it is worth quoting this section:

Do reduced welfare payments incentivise employment?

This is a strategy which, although appearing to contradict a key aspect of the flexicurity triangle (security of income), is being pursued extensively by EU countries.

The extensive economic literature on the role of reduced payments in incentivising behaviour is mixed regarding employment outcomes, both internationally and in Ireland. On the one hand for example, recent analysis of 18-21 year olds in Ireland highlights that welfare payments for this age cohort amount to a replacement rate of approximately 37% of average income, meaning that young people who secured employment would be almost three times better off in employment. This suggests that there is an incentive to work. However, the research does not provide any conclusions as to whether reduced welfare payments encourage young people to respond more aggressively to employment, training or education opportunities.

On the other hand, work undertaken for the trade union-funded Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) queries the emphasis on moving people into work at all costs considering the current absence of opportunities in the Irish labour market. It also highlights that, far from being work shy or needing incentives, 85% of unemployed young people on the live register have already worked. It argues that reductions in payments will negatively impact on young people’s ability to relocate for work, for example to Dublin or other places where new jobs tend to be concentrated.

Other work highlights that debates regarding incentives need to take account of the wider aspects and effects of unemployment than simply income (such as costs to health and wellbeing). As such, assessing any evidence on incentives may require a broader understanding of unemployment than that adopted in some analysis.

Evidence would seem to be at odds with the government’s claims:

While the ‘Great Recession’ has had a drastic effect on the Irish labour market since 2009, the impact on the youth labour market has been particularly severe. Up to 2013, the cumulative decline in youth employment in Ireland was almost 60%. This represented a drop from over 357,000 employed youth in the summer 2007 to 148,000 at the beginning of 2013.

While there has been a modest increase in overall employment figures recently, these increases have not materialised. in the youth category, with many young people continuing to exit the labour force, either by going into/returning to education and training, or emigrating.

youth em


The best part however is when JobBridge, Tús, Gateway and other €1 an hour ‘activation’ schemes were no longer counted as employment.

The Oireachtas Library looked at the period ending in the third quarter of 2013 and found that, in the absence of these schemes, the unemployment rate for that quarter would have been 15.9%, not the 13% reported. And just last week the Minister for Social Protection had a new figure of 12%.

We are talking about roughly eighty thousand people. Vanished for the Labour Party’s blushes.

Over the next few weeks rabble will be looking at Joan Burton’s privatisation plans.  If Ireland’s Labour Party are content to trade on lies then G4s, ATOS and others are happy to profit from them. With often fatal results elsewhere.




  1. When are the Irish going to stand up for themselves??? If this ^ bullshit along with the rest of the lies, thieving an hypocrisy from the government was goin on anywhere else in the world there would be riots in the streets and the government dismantled by now. We just sit and take it up the arse and do nothing but complain about it! Come election time we’ll fall for the same crap again and vote in another “party for the people” and sit around and complain about how we’ve gotten ripped off AGAIN. As a nation we’re idiotic, lazy and naive. It’s no wonder myself and half the nations youth have left or are planning on leaving the country and taking every measure possible to be able to stay out.

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