On May 8th, 2020 the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the Live Register and Monthly Unemployment (MU) figures for April. Similar to the March release, the CSO provided the figures with and without the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, 132,900 people were classified as unemployed, and their Monthly Unemployment Rate was 5.4%. This represents an increase of 7,800 people on the same month last year, and a 0.2% increase in the unemployment rate. However, the picture changes dramatically when the figures are adjusted for the huge impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. Looking at what the CSO call the ‘upper bound’ i.e. that everyone on a COVID-19 would be classified as unemployed, the number of people out of work increases to 694,983, and their unemployment rate is 28.2%.
Looking at it from an age perspective, even though the numbers of young people, aged 15-24 years, out of work increases 3.9 times to 157,490, they account for a lower percentage - 30% of the ‘traditional MU’ and 23% of the MU + COVID-19. This arises as the numbers of people aged 25-74 years increases 5.8 times to 537,193 when COVID-19 impact is taken into account.
The Monthly Unemployment Rate (MUR) for the younger age group sees a very dramatic increase, from 13.4% to 52.8%. While for the older age group, their MUR goes from 4.3% to 24.8%.
In April 2020 there were 214,741 people on the Live Register, an increase of 21,623 on the same month last year. 602,107 people were on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, an increase of 318,978 on March, 2020. The CSO notes that there were 425,204 people on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, an increase of 400,100 over the month. The monthly increase in these two figures really demonstrates the huge shock that hit the Irish labour market in a very short period of time. A shock that will be hard to recover from as the requirements of social distancing will make it very difficult for some businesses and organisations to re-open their front doors.
Looking at these figures from an age perspective, young people account for 12% of those on the Live Register, 20% of those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, and 14% of those on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). While from a gender perspective, women account for 44% of the Live Register, 43% of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, and 41% of the TWSS.
In Table A1 in the Live Register release information is provided on the numbers of people ‘availing of Activation Programmes’. These figures always lag a month behind, and so in March 2020 there were 51,433 participants, a slight increase on the same month last year. The largest programme continues to be Community Employment, with 21,132 participants, followed by SOLAS Full-time Training for Unemployed People at 11,191 participants. Over the year the numbers of people participating on employment programmes decreased by 10% to 30,691; while, the numbers of people participating on education and training programmes increased by 20% to 20,742 participants.