Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
62. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of unemployment blackspots nationwide; her activation plans to increase employment in these areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50364/19]
Measurement of unemployment is solely the remit of the CSO, and the CSO’s Labour Force Survey is the official measurement of unemployment in the state. Neither the Live Register nor the so-called "unemployment blackspots" can be used to measure unemployment in the state.
The concept of “unemployment blackspots” was developed by the CSO following the 2016 Census, and was based on Census 2016 data, specifically electoral districts with 200+ people in the labour force on Census night 2016. I am advised that it did not use the internationally accepted methodology for the measurement of unemployment.
I am advised that my Department does not collect data at the electoral division level, and so it is not currently possible to answer this part of the Deputy's question. If the Deputy would like information on the number of former construction workers on the Live Register broken down by county, officials in my Department will be happy to oblige.
This analysis of unemployment blackspots is only available from the Census of Population; the CSO has no corresponding small-area statistics for more recent periods. In general, they are small residential areas within larger urban areas.
The approach adopted by my Department is that the services delivered by Intreo are focused on unemployed individuals rather than on areas. This means, therefore, that those areas where unemployed individuals are most concentrated will also be the areas that receive a greater share of income support payments and activation and employment services. The focus of those services is to support unemployed people to access and prepare for jobs in the wider labour market of that area. This involves substantial co-operation between my Department and other public authorities, particularly those engaged in education and training under the Department of Education and Skills.
The Government’s Pathways to Work Strategy is to ensure that as many jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register and to other groups that tend to have limited access to the labour market. Ensuring that work always pays and preventing long-term dependency on welfare are also important aspects of this strategy. Under this policy, employment services and activation supports are heavily concentrated on the areas of highest unemployment.
I am confident that policy to reduce unemployment, together with continuing economic recovery, will build on significant improvements in the labour market seen in recent years.