Ireland’s unemployment rate rises to 14.4 percent

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DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland’s unemployment rate has risen to 14.4 percent on doubts that the bailed-out country can tame its debts and deficits.

Ireland has been trying to escape its 3-year recession through export growth led by its multinational companies. But the domestic economy remains dormant because of weak consumer demand, high household debts and a collapsed real-estate market.

The Central Statistics Agency said Wednesday that unemployment rose from July’s rate of 14.3 percent, the fourth straight monthly increase.

A record-high 470,000 people in Ireland, a country of 4.5 million, are claiming welfare payments for joblessness. About 17 percent are foreigners, chiefly Eastern Europeans who immigrated during the final years of Ireland’s 1994-2007 Celtic Tiger boom.

Kells Hetherington