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Labour Force Survey, Quarter 3 2020

17 November 2020 - 13:30 pm


On November 17th the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the third quarter of 2020, which covers the months July to September. 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, 2,295,200 people were employed in this quarter: 31,700 fewer people than in the same quarter in 2019. In Q3 2020, 174,700 people were unemployed: 46,700 more people than in Q3 2019. Over the year the labour force increased by 14,900 to 2,469,800, but the participation rate was lower by 0.5 at 62%.

The Potential Additional Labour Force stood at 161,300 in Q3 2020: 51,700 more people than a year ago, this figure captures people who are deemed as ‘inactive’ but who may well view themselves as unemployed.

Looking at the official unemployment figures in more detail. In Q3 2020, the unemployment rate was 7.1%, a figure last seen in Q1 2017. At that time the female unemployment rate was 6.8% and the male 7.3%. While in the most recent quarter this situation is reversed, with the female unemployment rate at 7.6% and the male at 6.7%.

The number of people deemed long-term unemployed in Q3 2020 was 34,600 and the long-term unemployment rate was 1.4%, these figures are very similar to Q3 2019. Looking at the numbers of people who are long-term unemployed: a year ago men accounted for 68%, while in Q3 2020 women account for 50.3%.  

The Principal Economic Status (PES) captures data on how people described themselves, for example whether they are at work or unemployed or a student or on home duties. In Q3 2020, 254,100 people described themselves as unemployed: an increase of 83,800 on the same quarter last year. 

Impact of COVID-19

When the impact of COVID-19 is factored in, the numbers of people employed drops to 2,078,058 in September. While the numbers of people unemployed increases to 394,538, with an unemployment rate of 15.9%.

In this Labour Force Survey, the CSO also published a COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment for October, and according to this figure an estimated 1,965,209 people were employed. While the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment is estimated as 501,640 and the unemployment rate as 20.2%.

On November 17th the CSO also published Labour Market Insight Series 3, a supplementary analysis to this Labour Force Survey. Amongst the key findings they note:

  • Those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in Q3 2020 were almost twice as likely to self-classify themselves as Unemployed using Principal Economic Status (PES) at 28.1% as to be officially classified as Unemployed (15.3%)
  • Approximately three in five (58.3%) of all those aged 15-64 years who reported having lost employment or been laid off due to COVID-19 indicated that they had already returned to the same job compared to approximately one in five (18.8%) of those who were receiving the PUP and four in five (80.6%) of those who were benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)

If you wish to read more of this analysis please follow this link