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Unemployment statistics not an accurate reflection of unemployment

19 January, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has said that many people living with poverty will be angry at the analysis of unemployment.

Ms Stanton said:

"It is dishonest for anyone to celebrate the level of unemployment. In Strabane, Derry and Belfast there has been little or no progress in tackling unemployment particularly long-term unemployment.

"There has been increase in of 22,000 in the number of people described as economically inactive in the last 12 months. Direct rule Ministers should be more concerned that the economic inactivity rate is almost 30%. This is very high and has implications both for individuals and for our economy.

"These are figures that have been doctored for the past 20 years. They in no way reflect the true economic and personal cost of unemployment. In many areas we have generational long-term unemployment. We have an unacceptable level of people who are marginalised. Describing people as economically inactive just about says it all.

"If we look at the totals for people who are classified as economically inactive, at the 'official' unemployment figures and also at the levels of long-term unemployment and long-term illness and incapacity the picture is far from rosy. 25% of the population live in poverty. More economically inactive people means that there are more people at risk from poverty. There is no strategy in place to deal with poverty. The announcement of water taxes and huge rates increases will also only further increase the risk of poverty for people who in many cases are already struggling.

"If we are going to tackle the social and economic problems created by the patterns of economic activity throughout the Six Counties then we need to be honest about what is happening. Using 'official figures' to disguise the true extent of the problem will not help us to put in place the long-term solutions that many of these long standing problems require." ENDS

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