By Ann Marie Foley - 28 April, 2015
Social Justice Ireland warns of "precarious" employment with an increase in the number of part-time jobs which have left many underemployed.
There are 272,000 fewer full-time jobs in Ireland today compared to 2007.
This and an increase in part-time jobs, by almost 60,000, is described as ‘precarious’ employment by Social Justice Ireland (SJI) in its just released briefing.
“The recession has left Ireland with a deep long-term unemployment crisis and a growing number of people in precarious employment,” Fr Seán Healy, Director of SJI said.
Referring to the publication of SJI’s ‘Work, Jobs and Unemployment’ he said, “These two developments are having huge negative impacts on the wellbeing of individuals and families and communities.”
The policy briefing titled, ‘Work, Jobs and Unemployment’ shows that long-term unemployment (defined as unemployment for more than one year) has fallen by 48,700 since 2010 and now makes up 58% of the total number of people unemployed.
However, 123,800 Irish people have emigrated since 2010.
“Long-term unemployment is at record levels as a proportion of those who are unemployed but it would be a great deal worse if fewer people had emigrated. The key problem is that those seeking jobs far outnumber the jobs available,” said Seán Healy
By the end of 2014, one quarter (115,500 people) who are in part-time work are underemployed, meaning they are working less hours than they are willing to work.
SJI said that while some of the figures can be explained by the recession, there is a greater number of workers in precarious employment situations.
This means they have persistent uncertainties on the number of hours and the times they are required for work, and SJI describes this as “a major labour market challenge”.
Not only is it affecting the well-being of individuals and their families, it also impacts on the state which provides Family Income Supplement.
In effect such payments amount to the Government subsidising these families incomes as well as subsidising the employers who create precarious work patterns for their employees.
SJI’s policy proposals to address these and related challenges include major investment to strengthen social infrastructure; further resourcing the upskilling of those who are unemployed or at risk of becoming unemployed; and, at a policy level, recognising all meaningful work (including carers) and not just paid employment.
The briefing also sets out proposals focused specifically on addressing the very rapid increase in the numbers unemployed under 25 years-of-age which have more than doubled between 2007 and 2009 peaking at 83,100 in the second quarter of 2009.
Since then decreases have occurred, reaching 38,000 in late 2014. SJI states that the decrease is probably due to emigration.
“Experiences of unemployment, and in particular long-term unemployment, alongside an inability to access any work, training or education, tends to leave a ‘scaring effect’ on young people. It increases the challenges associated with getting them active in the labour market at any stage in the future,” states the briefing.
The latest data on the number of young people aged 18-24 years in Ireland who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) is 20.5 percent for 2012. SJI suggests that in the short-term it makes sense for Government to invest in the ‘youth unemployed’.
The briefing also highlights that the increase in the numbers classified as employed also includes those who are on various active labour market training schemes run by Government. At the end of 2014, there were 86,027 on these schemes.
Poverty and unemployment are both higher in rural Ireland tan they are in urban Ireland, according to the briefing.
The economic recession and restructuring of agriculture and subsequent decline in off-farm employment has led to a narrowing of the economic base in rural areas.
Low-paid, part-time and seasonal work and long-term underemployment are significant factors in rural poverty and exclusion.
The areas that are highlighted as possible drivers of rural job creation are social enterprise and social services (eg childcare and elder care), tourism, ‘green’ products and services and cultural and creative industries.
In order to promote development of these drivers of employment and to support local entrepreneurs and local enterprises in rural and coastal areas the economic policies for these areas must take into account specific local needs such as accessible transport and access to childcare, the briefing stated.
• The Policy Briefing may be accessed at: http://www.socialjustice.ie/content/publications/policy-briefing-work-jobs-and-unemployment