On June 23rd, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the first quarter of 2021, which covers the months of January to March. This release was later than usual as the CSO had work to undertake to ensure that these statistics are in line with the new Integration of European Social Statistics Regulation.
The CSO have also introduced a new format for this publication. They continue to provide information using the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) definitions of employment, unemployment and inactivity, and estimated figures taking into account the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market.
Using the standard LFS methodology (ILO), 2,230,600 people were employed in this quarter: 116,600 fewer people than in the first quarter of 2020. Full-time employment dropped by 71,200 over the year to 1,796,900 people. Part-time employment also fell by 45,300 to 433,700. The decline in women’s part-time work was greater at 46,300, bringing their percentage of part-time employment down from 71% in Q1 2020 to 67% in Q1 2021.
Over the year the labour force decreased by 60,700 to 2,401,100. Two factors influence changes in the Labour Force, the demographic effect, which was positive (+20,000); and the participatory effect, which was negative (-80,700). The participation rate in Q1 2021 was 60%, it was 62.2% in Q1 2020, the quarter in which COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
In Q1 2021, 170,500 people were unemployed: 55,800 more people than in Q1 2020. The unemployment rate was 7.1%, an increase of 2.4 over the year. The number of people deemed long-term unemployed was 40,800 and the long-term unemployment rate was 1.7%. In Q1 2020 these figures were 31,900 and 1.3% respectively.
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 Q1 2021, 293,500 people described themselves as unemployed: an increase of 127,800 on the same quarter last year.
Another statistic the INOU believes is useful to look at is the Potential Additional Labour Force (PALF). In Q1 2021, PALF stood at 201,600: 92,600 more people than a year ago. This figure captures people who are deemed as ‘inactive’ but who may well view themselves as unemployed.
Impact of COVID-19
When the impact of COVID-19 is factored in and everyone who is on a Pandemic Unemployment Payment is assumed to meet the ILO definition of unemployment, at the end of March the numbers of people unemployed increases to 612,443 with an unemployment rate of 25.7%. While at the end of April 2021, the adjusted measure of unemployment was 564,059 and the unemployment rate was 24.8%. While in May COVID-19 adjusted unemployment estimate was 487,122 and the unemployment rate was 21.9%.
In this Labour Force Survey, the CSO also published a COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment for the ends of March, April and May 2021. Under this measurement, at the end of March the numbers of people employed drops to 1,785,923. As the figures for April and May are capturing the economy starting to re-open, they are higher than the March estimate, at 1,845,383 and 1,921,085 respectively.