The number of migrant workers from new EU member states claiming unemployment benefits in Ireland has trebled in 12 months as the building industry has entered serious decline.
Almost a sixth of those on the live register are now foreign nationals from EU or non-EU countries. Dole figures are surging upwards due to the economic slump, with growth likely to fall to near zero this year and unemployment rising to about 6%.
Some 38,500 of the 221,000 people on the live register are from abroad. Figures supplied to The Sunday Times show 15,500 claimants are from the 10 accession state countries that joined the EU in 2004, half of them from Poland. Another 10,000 are from the UK (including Northern Ireland), 10,000 are from other overseas countries (such as Africa, America, and Australia) and 2,000 from the rest of the EU.
The number of foreign dole claimants is up from 23,000 a year ago, but the number of accession-state claimants has almost trebled from 5,860 to 15,540. This is now the register’s biggest overseas category.
The Department of Finance has calculated that each unemployed person costs the state an average of €11,000 a year. On that basis the non-Irish claimants will cost the exchequer about ¤420m in a full year.