Minister Donohoe notes continued impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods in Q3 jobs numbers

17th November, 2020

  • The official seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 6.7 per cent in the third quarter, up from 4.9 per cent for the same period in 2019.
  • The official level of employment fell by -1.4 per cent (-31,700) year-on-year to 2.3 million persons.
  • Impact on employment is reflected in total actual hours worked – down by 4 million (-5.4 per cent) year-on-year. This compares to a 16.8 million (-22 per cent) fall in Q2 2020.
  • The CSO’s COVID-adjusted unemployment rate, counting all PUP recipients, is estimated at just over 20 per cent for the end of October.
  • The COVID-adjusted measure of total employment is estimated at 1.97 million in October.


The Central Statistics Office today (Tuesday, 17 November 2020) published the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the third quarter of this year, capturing the continuing impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods. Despite a large fall in recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) over the summer, from 600,000 in early May, the LFS showed a rise in the official unemployment rate to 6.7 per cent in the third quarter and a further year-on-year fall in total employment.


Although the official unemployment rate rose to 6.7 per cent in the third quarter, there are still many people that have lost employment as a result of the pandemic who do not meet the International Labour Organisation definition of unemployed. This is evident in the difference between the LFS unemployment rate and the CSO’s COVID-adjusted rate, which counts all recipients of the PUP as unemployed and stood at 15.9 per cent in September before rising again to 20.2 per cent by the end of October. While 2.3 million people were officially employed in the third quarter according to the LFS, when adjusted for PUP recipients the figure would have stood at 2.08 million (some 220,000 lower) at the end of September and 1.97 million in October.


Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D., said: ‘Today’s figures show that Ireland’s labour market continued to bear the fall-out from COVID-19 and the associated public health restrictions in the third quarter this year. The rise in the LFS unemployment rate to 6.7 per cent in today’s figures shows the impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods However the rise in total employment and total hours worked in the economy from the second quarter is evidence of the improvement in economic conditions in the third quarter and shows how resilient Ireland’s labour market is’.


“The introduction of the Level 5 public health restrictions currently in place has had a significant and rapid impact on our labour market with numbers of claimants for the PUP rising to 350,000 in recent weeks. However, I am encouraged by the fact that, with sectors such as construction and manufacturing remaining open, the rise in the number of people relying on the PUP has stayed well below the peak of 600,000 from early May. If we continue our diligent efforts, as we have done to date in reducing the spread of the virus for a second time, many people will return to work once Level 5 restrictions are lifted.               

“The Government is absolutely determined to support businesses, jobs and incomes. During the summer the Government announced a July Jobs Stimulus worth a total of €5.2bn followed by further measures in Budget 2021 including a commitment to maintain wage subsidy support until the end of 2021 and the introduction of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme to help businesses. Following the recent move to Level 5, Government introduced adjustments to the income support schemes, including the reintroduction of the top PUP payment rate of €350 per week and the alignment of EWSS payment rates with PUP rates to maximise job retention. The Government will soon publish a National Economic Plan setting out a pathway for recovery in the Irish economy over the medium term, with growing and sustaining employment as a top priority.”



Note to Editors:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the labour market may not be fully captured by the official measures of employment and unemployment. It is likely that many persons in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) may not meet the official statistical classification of unemployed as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and utilised by the CSO.
  • For example, if an individual in receipt of the PUP has not taken specific steps to find work they may be classified as being outside the labour force rather than unemployed, while a worker with a reasonable expectation of returning to work within the next three months may still be defined as being employed rather than unemployed. According to the CSO just under 60 per cent of PUP recipients were officially classified as employed in the third quarter, with 15 per cent classified as unemployed and 25 per cent classified as inactive.
  • Those being paid through their employer via the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (now the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme) are most likely to be classified as ‘in employment’ if any lay-off is temporary in nature or if they are still in receipt of at least 50 per cent of their wage/salary from their employer (even if subsidised by the State).
  • The COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate represents the official unemployment rate plus the CSO’s estimate of those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This rate should be treated as an upper bound for the true unemployment rate.
  • As noted by the CSO, roughly a quarter of PUP recipients under the age of 25 are full-time students. Full-time students would not normally be eligible for jobseekers payments, nor would they be classified as unemployed. However they are included in the COVID-19 adjusted measure of unemployment.
  • Similarly, the COVID-19 adjusted measure of employment should be treated as a lower bound for the level of total employment.
  • The latest data from the Department of Social Protection show that 350,000 people were in receipt of the PUP as of November 16th, in addition to just over 203,000 persons on the Live Register for the month of October.
  • In addition, Revenue report that there were an estimated 345,400 employees supported by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme in October.