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Leo Varadkar hails 'results of government policies' as unemployment rate dips below 7%

The number of unemployed is down to 147,400, people a drop of 21.4% over the last 12 months.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has taken an opportunity to praise the actions of his own department as figures published today show a continuing trend of lower unemployment rates across the country.

As Leo Varadkar enters a grassroots battle with Simon Coveney for the Fine Gael leadership, he is making the most of what he called a “significant result for the many individuals and families who were blighted by the crash years”.

“[It] shows that our policies to tackle unemployment are getting results,” said Varadkar.

“This government intends to make even more progress in the year ahead.”

Data released by the Department of Social Protection shows the number of people who are unemployed in Ireland now stands at 147,400, with the monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January at 6.8%.

Long-term unemployment is also down to 79,700 and youth unemployment also fell from 18.9% to 15.2%.

The fall in unemployment has been a trend in recent months with December seeing the lowest unemployment rate – 7.2% or 157,700 people - since the economic crash.

A bullish Varadkar continued, “This year I intend to move more people from welfare to work, and make more progress towards our long-term target of reducing unemployment to 5-6%, and reducing long-term unemployment to below 2.5%.”

The Quarterly National Household Survey found that employment increased by 65,100 in the year to the fourth quarter of 2016. The current number of people employed in Ireland now stands at 2,048,100.

The minister is now looking to develop a new work experience programme to replace JobBridge that will involve one-to-one engagement with jobseekers, promoting self-employment as well as using initiatives like JobsWeek to match jobseekers with employees.

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