I love it when I can answer a question exactly the way the Deputy wants me to answer it.
At its peak the unemployment rate for the south-east region was estimated at about 19%. The most recent official data from the labour force survey show that at the end of the second quarter of 2018 to the beginning of August, the Deputy is correct, that unemployment in the area is now at about 7.2%. As compared with the same period last year employment in the south-east region had risen by 6,100. The labour force in the region had increased even faster, by 8,400, so that unemployment rose by about 2,400 over the year, with the unemployment rate rising from 6.4% to 7.2%.
The figures for a single quarter at the regional level can be volatile and the labour force survey is a sample survey and therefore subject to sampling error. Over the longer period since the recovery began in mid 2012, employment in the south east is up by almost 33,000, with the labour force increasing by 15,000 and unemployment decreasing by 18,000.
Migration estimates are published at State level only, so it is not possible to identify the impact of migration on regional labour force and unemployment levels specifically in the Deputy's county. The data quoted indicate that the reduction in unemployment is not attributable to a reduction in the labour force.
The Government's primary strategy to tackle unemployment since 2012 is twofold. First, we have the Action Plan for Jobs, which is led by my colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and we also have regional action plans that are yielding results through working with IDA Ireland and the local enterprise boards. Second, we have Pathways to Work, and my Department ensures that as many new jobs and vacancies as possible are filled by people from the live register. We have a tremendous relationship, which is growing, particularly because employers cannot find people when they have their stands at jobs fairs or through recruitment agencies. Our relationships are growing and there are more piloted and targeted projects being worked on and developed, not least of which is Project Yes being launched this week. Things are getting better. The employment numbers are not matching the rates for people in employment. The rates for people in employment are higher in most of the regions around the county than the drop in numbers on the unemployment register.