ERSI report highlights rise in household joblessness

A report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that 22% of the population in the Republic of Ireland is living in households where adults spend less than a fifth of their time in work.

The ERSI said the figure was twice the European average.

The study said there was a strong link between household joblessness and poverty.

It suggests welfare payments were the most effective way of reducing poverty.

The focus of the report, Work and Poverty in Ireland, was on working-age adults and their dependent children between 2004 and 2010, a period spanning economic growth and deep recession.

The report said that during that period the numbers in jobless households increased from 15% in 2007 to 22% in 2010.

The ERSI said the high rate in Ireland was partly due to the level of unemployment, but other important factors are that, compared to other EU countries, jobless adults in Ireland are less likely to live with a working adult and they are much more likely to live with children.

The risk of living in a jobless household is higher for people with low levels of education, in lone parent households and in households where an adult has a disability.

Over one third of those living in jobless households were children and nearly one fifth were adults with a disability. Taken together, these two groups account for over one half of those living in jobless households.

Report author Dorothy Watson said: "There were some unexpected findings. While unemployment is clearly important in accounting for the high level of joblessness in Ireland, it is far from being the dominant factor.

"Only about one third of the adults in jobless households would classify themselves as unemployed. Tackling household joblessness will require a very broad approach, addressing a range of barriers to work.

"The solution will need to consider childcare and support services for people with a disability, as well as support for job search and skills development."

Ms Joan Burton TD, Minister for Social Protection said: "I am particularly concerned about the situation of children living in jobless households.

"There are grave social and economic risks in letting almost a quarter of Irish children grow up in jobless households.

"These risks include child poverty, limited educational achievements and ultimately, the intergenerational transmission of unemployment and poverty."

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