Fine Gael Meath West TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee, Damien English, had today (Wednesday) welcomed the latest Live Register figures, but warned that we must heed this week’s warnings from the Competitiveness Council if we are to continue to reduce our unemployment rate.
“Today’s Live Register figures yet again show we are heading in the right direction. The number of people signing on has fallen for the 21st month in a row. Unemployment is most definitely on a downward trajectory, with 61,000 new jobs created last year. But if we want to maintain this progress we must heed the warning of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) report published this week.
“The NCC report contains some very stark messages; labour costs are again rising after a number of years in decline and the Council observes rising business costs across a range of services. It notes that if we want to continue to deliver jobs growth, our international cost competitiveness must continue to improve.
“We cannot let the improvement in our competitiveness to ebb away simply because the economy is recovering. Even after the effects of the downturn, wages here are still the sixth highest in Europe.
“Jobs are now once again being created, but we want to ensure this is a lasting recovery. In order to protect jobs and create new ones, we must maintain our competitiveness so we can continue to attract investment.
The Irish people have made great sacrifices over the last number of years; we must ensure these sacrifices are not made in vain by ensuring prices, wages and the cost of services don’t once again spiral out of control.
“Everyone wants more money in their pocket at the end of the week. But I think the best way to achieve this is to cut taxes on work, providing the public finances allow. The NCC also notes that the cumulative effect of tax increases, including the USC, have weakened our cost competitiveness since the beginning of the recession. An easing of the tax burden would therefore not only give people a little extra money in their pocket, it would be a progressive step in terms of economic sustainability and recovery.”