On August 25th, 2020 the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the second quarter of 2020, which covers the months April to June. This release includes information using the International Labour Organisation standard methodology, alongside estimated figures taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Irish labour market.
So, using the standard LFS methodology, 2,222,500 people were employed in this quarter, 77,600 fewer people than in the same quarter in 2019. In Q2 2020, 118,700 people were unemployed, 12,100 fewer people than in Q1 2019. As a consequence, the labour force was lower at 2,341,200, and the participation rate has fallen below 60% to 58.9%. It is worth noting, that during the last crisis the lowest the participation rate went was 61.1% in Quarter 1, 2013.
When the impact of COVID-19 is factored in, the numbers of people employed drops to 1,783,567, and the numbers of people unemployed increases to 531,412. Looking at the rates: the employment rate moves from 65.7% to 52.2%, and the unemployment rate from 5.1% to 23.1%.
In this Labour Force Survey, the CSO have also produced a COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment for July. According to this figure an estimated 1,947,922 people were employed and the adjusted employment rate was 57.2%. Even though this figure is an improvement on the estimated figure for Q2, it is still lower than the lowest the employment rate during the last crisis: 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 Q2 2020 was 25,700 and the rate was 1.1%, 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, waiting for their former place of employment to re-open. 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’. PALF stood at 273,500 in Q2 2020, more than double the figure in Q2 2019 when it stood at 127,100.
Another interesting figure is the Principal Economic Status (PES) where the person describes themselves, for example, at work or unemployed or a student or on home duties. In Q2 2020, 275,100 people described themselves as unemployed, an increase of 109,900 on the same quarter last year.
On August 25th the CSO also published Labour Market Insight Series 1, a supplementary analysis to the Labour Force Survey. Amongst the key findings they note “The number of persons who left the PUP scheme by 09 August 2020 is estimated to have been 441,981 persons; this outflow is equivalent to 62.7% of all those who had received at least one payment from the scheme up to that point”.
If you wish to read more of this analysis please follow this link https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/br/b-lfs/labourmarketinsightseries1q22020/