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Employment figures hide true cost of poverty

17 December, 2003

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew MLA commenting on today's Labour Force Figures has said that employment figures hide the true cost of poverty.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The fact that unemployment remains unchanged over the 12 month period hides the fact that there continues to be very serious unemployment black spots.

"Particularly West of the Bann, in Derry, Strabane, parts of Fermanagh and in urban areas such as North and West Belfast high levels of unemployment remain static and are unacceptable. In these areas there are also serious levels of poverty that must be addressed.

"The hidden figure showing that the numbers of people classed as 'economically inactive' also distorts the figures. Overall these figures hide the true cost of poverty that exists not just in specific geographical areas but also within vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, young people, the long term unemployed and lone parent families.

"There also still remains a considerable gap between the earnings of men and women. The unemployment rate of nearly 10% for young people aged between 18-24 is also unacceptable and points to deficits in training and education provision for this groups and the longer-term failure of New Deal in particular. The issue of long-term unemployment also shows little sign of improving.

"The reality is that the manufacturing sector continues to be in freefall, an overall decrease of 3% in manufacturing output should send out a serious warning. While the majority of new jobs are part-time which are characterised by poor employment security and low income, particularly within the service sector where the majority of new jobs are coming on stream." ENDS

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