Political stability essential to continued recovery.
At the release of the Monthly Unemployment figures from the CSO today (5th April), ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, called on all recently elected politicians to accept their responsibilities to form a government. The political vacuum is adding to the economic uncertainty and having a negative effect on business planning and job creation. The Association reminded the politicians, on all sides, of their responsibilities and demanded that negotiations be completed in days rather than weeks.
The Monthly Unemployment figures for March confirm that 187,700 people are still signing on the dole, a reduction of – 2,900 in the month. The standardised unemployment rate is 8.6%.
Commenting on the figures, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, said, “The continuing reduction in unemployment, albeit less than forecasted, is welcomed. The slowdown in the reduction of jobless numbers is a direct result of political and industrial relations uncertainty, increasing wage pressure and parental and paternity leave promises. The situation is making owners reassess their employment plans”.
The current ISME Quarterly Trends Survey for Q1 2016 show the highest employment figures for eight years, with a net 28% having more employees. However, on a more cautionary note, the figure for future employment is down 3 points on the previous quarter. This reduction is particularly noticeable among Manufacturers and Exporters. SME owners are getting to grips with recent minimum wage increases, knock-on wage demands and political promises on leave entitlements, all adding to the underlying costs.
The Association called on the new Administration to:
• Reduce government influenced business costs to below the EU average.
• Encourage entrepreneurs through the tax system.
• Ensure real measurable access to credit for viable SMEs.
• Outsource more state sector services to SMEs.
• Reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work.
• Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black economy activity.
“The current political impasse is having a major impact on business planning and confidence and ISME now demands that the elected politicians put the country before their own party aspirations and form a government capable of returning the economy to some form of stability”, concluded Fielding.