764. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that are long term employed; the way in which this compares to the EU average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32907/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Based on EUROSTAT Labour Force Survey data, the number of Irish long-term unemployed was 80,000 in Q4 2016, as compared with 9,278,000 in the EU overall. The situation in Ireland has improved substantially both in absolute terms and relative to the EU average in the last few years. The number of long-term unemployed here peaked at 204,000 in Q1 2012 at a time when the EU number was 10,778,000. The EU figure subsequently peaked at 12,768,000 in Q1 2014.

The rapid improvement in long-term unemployment reflects the impact of government policy, and the overall improvement in the labour market.

Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. First, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and second, through Pathways to Work to ensure that as many as possible of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register.

The Pathways to Work 2016-2020 strategy continues to prioritise actions for the long-term unemployed. This includes the payment-by-results services of JobPath to engage more systematically with the long-term unemployed; providing targeted wage subsidies under JobsPlus; and through reserved places for long-term unemployed jobseekers on employment and training programmes.

I am confident these measures, and continuing economic recovery, will support further reductions in long-term unemployment and add to the substantial improvements that have already been seen over the last few years.