Unemployment hits pandemic low of 12.4% as economy begins to rebound
The state’s Covid-adjusted unemployment rate fell to 12.4% in August, its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, as the economy’s gradual reopening has seen more people return to work .
This is down from 13.5% the month before and 17.1% in August of last year.
The latest unemployment figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CSO) suggest that economic activity is resuming alongside the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
According to the CSO, up to 335,178 people remained either unemployed or receiving pandemic unemployment benefit (PUP) from the government in August.
The youth unemployment rate remained high at 25.6 percent, but was also down from previous months.
The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include PUP beneficiaries, was set at 6.4%, down slightly from the July figure.
The numbers come as the government this week signaled the phasing out of restrictions, with public transport returning to full capacity on Wednesday and an easing of limits on indoor and outdoor events slated for next week.
There will be further changes on September 20, when offices begin to reopen while the rules on physical distancing and wearing a mask in most circumstances expire on October 22.
“Today’s numbers provide positive news, with the adjusted Covid rate and the standard unemployment rate continuing downward,” said Jack Kennedy, economist at recruitment site Indeed.
“The hope is that pent-up demand for industries like nightlife and entertainment can give these businesses a boost as people look to let go after the lockdown,” he said.
“However, the challenge companies now face is a potential labor shortage. There is no doubt that the pandemic has brought about a lasting change in how people relate to their jobs, with many hoping to continue the flexible and remote work opportunities that the pandemic has brought, ”Kennedy said.
“We will likely see companies become more competitive in attracting and retaining staff in this new world of work. It goes beyond simple salary increases – flexibility and well-being are now key currencies for attracting talent, ”he added.
Grant Thornton Ireland chief economist Andrew Webb said the latest figures “continue to reflect the deep economic pain of the past 15 months, but labor market indicators now appear to be moving steadily in the right direction, and a stronger sense of optimism is evident. “
He said new research from the professional services company shows 76% of Irish businesses are optimistic about the outlook for the economy over the next 12 months and that nearly four in ten Irish businesses expect to increase l employment as society returns to normal. “If this optimism materializes, the economy looks set for a strong year-end performance,” he said.