One sector of unemployment that is mostly ignored is youth unemployment. In Wexford district this has gone up from 700 in May 2008 to 918 this October. The increase of 31% has gone unnoticed. Unemployment increases have been mostly attributed to the collapse in the building industry. This is partly true but doesn’t tell the whole picture as retail and manufacturing (what’s left of it) go into a tailspin. Lay offs and short time are features of the motor trade locally as a petrol station closed last week, Dunnes Stores has closed on Wexford’s Main St. Toymaster and Furniture Depot shut their doors too. The wider construction business has also suffered, architects, engineers, builders suppliers, solicitors, auctioneers, and building material have all felt the cold wind of recession. Empty units like the one's shown are easily found in Wexford.
Mostly young people who never experienced a recession before are now finding that a bust does follow a boom. The over reliance on multinationals, tax breaks and the property sector has undermined our small business sector. Manufacturing continues to flatline. Where is the policy to support innovation, R&D and new ideas? Any tax breaks that went in the budget were to the corporate sector. FAS has an enormous budget but as yet they have yet to make inroads on the numbers of young on the dole. To make matters worse, numbers qualifying for the Back to Education Allowance have been reduced in the budget. So, no extra money for education, no initiative to expand Community Employment Schemes and FAS out of the picture. Is the government falling back on emigration to sort out the problem of youth unemployment as they did in the 50’s?