JOBLESS figures are up yet again in Banbridge, with 123 more people having joined the dole queue since the same period last year.
The majority of the 1,182 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance are male, with 285 women making up the numbers.
The annual increase in Northern Ireland is the largest in the UK, while the district’s annual increase is more than 11 per cent on last year.
Banbridge Citizen’s Advice Bureau Manager Margaret Ellis said there had been more people calling the office in the wake of a job loss or for advice on managing debt since being laid off.
Banbridge joiner Stephen Magill has been unable to find work for almost three years since losing his job at Graham’s Construction in Dromore. The 30-year-old, who had worked since leaving school as a teenager, said he has made every effort to find a job.
“I’ve applied for every type of job going and I get letters saying I’m over-qualified or that I’d be expecting more money than they can offer,” Mr Magill told the Leader.
The father-of-two said he has found the whole process difficult and is frustrated at the prospect of not finding work for some considerable time.
“Of the hundreds of jobs I’ve applied for I’ve been invited for interview to about ten,” he said. “I was never out of work before and it is so frustrating. I don’t want to be sitting around all day. I get up in the morning and think ‘What’s on tv?’ This is not what I want to be doing with my life.”
Mr Magill expressed his disbelief that he is still unemployed after such a long period of time.
“I worked as a site safety supervisor, having trained as an apprentice and done all my NVQs and first aid courses. I never dreamed when I first lost my job that I would still be umemployed three years later.”
While the coalition Government has pledged to tackle unemployment, Mr Magill said he is at a loss as to how things are going to improve.
“I would love to know where they are creating all these jobs from,” said the Banbridge man. “Where does this Government see the jobs being made available?”