Unemployment rate falls to lowest level since October 2008

Leo Varadkar has said there are still concerns over the number of people unemployed for more than five years

unemployment, CSO, rate, numbers, leo, varadkar, social, protection

File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

The unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since October 2008.

The Central Statistics Office says the rate was 7.8% this month - a near two percentage point drop on the 9.6% rate a year ago.

There are now 169,700 people unemployed compared to 208,000 in May of last year.

The youth unemployment rate was 15.0% in May 2016, down from 15.3% in April.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has welcomed the figures, but says concern remains for the rising number of people being unemployed for more than five years.

Minister Varadkar said: "These people lost their jobs during the crisis and can't get back to work. We know that the longer you remain unemployed, the less likely you are to escape it. That's why my focus is on activation, on employment and training schemes, and on helping those who need the most help to get back to work.

"On a European level, we have come a long way in tackling unemployment, but we have a lot of catching up to do with countries like Germany. So these latest unemployment figures from the CSO are welcome evidence that solid progress is still being made in tackling unemployment and helping people get back to work," he added.