On May 21st, 2020 the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2020, which covers the months January to March. As they have done with other recent releases, the CSO have produced information using the International Labour Organisation standard methodology, which allows information to be compared across countries and time; and they have produced estimated figures taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Irish labour market.
So, if the pandemic had not happened, 2,353,500 people would have been employed in this quarter, and 114,400 people would have been unemployed. When the impact of COVID-19 is factored in, the numbers of people employed drops to 2,070,371, and the numbers of people unemployed increases to 382,311. Looking at the rates: the employment rate moves from 69.8% to 61.1%, and the unemployment rate from 4.7% to 15.5%.
The impact of COVID-19 will become more apparent in Quarter 2, which covers the months April to June, and will incorporate the fuller effect of this pandemic on the labour market, and hopefully some of the positive effect of the initial phases of re-opening the country.
Since the health crisis hit, the CSO have produced two sets of Monthly Unemployment figures, these figures work off the most recent Labour Force Survey and factor in changes in the seasonally adjusted Live Register. In this Labour Force Survey they have produced equivalent employment estimates. So, in April 2020 the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment is estimated as 1,751,393 and the employment would be 51.4%. These stark figures highlight the challenge now facing Ireland. In the recession the country has recently crawled out of, the lowest the employment rate went to was 59.6% in Q1 2011.
In this Labour Force Survey, other figures have not been adjusted for the impact of the pandemic. So the numbers of people deemed long-term unemployed in Q1 2020 was 31,900 and the rate was 1.3%, bringing this figure back to pre-2008 crisis levels. To be included in the official unemployment figures, people have answer ‘yes’ to two questions. Firstly, people have to been actively seeking work over the previous four weeks, and available to take up in the coming two weeks. There are many reasons people answered ‘no’ to these questions, including lack of hope in finding a job, care and transport challenges. To capture people who are deemed ‘inactive’, but who would like a job all other things being equal, the CSO publish a figure called ‘Potential Additional Labour Force’, and this figure stood at 108,100 in Q1 2020.
To read the full release please follow this link https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/lfs/labourforcesurveylfsquarter12020/