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Over 500,000 people either out of work or receiving pandemic payments, new stats show

The CSO released the figures this morning.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Updated Apr 2nd 2020, 11:16 AM

FIGURES RELEASED FROM the CSO this morning have shown how there are over 500,000 people on either the Live Register or claiming a payment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Figures released by the CSO reveal how the seasonally adjusted Live Register total for March 2020 was 207,200, an increase of 24,400 from February 2020. The unadjusted register stands at 205,209.

In the last week of March, 283,037 people were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and 25,104 people were receiving money from the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

This means that there are 513,350 people claiming some form of unemployment benefit from the State.

Earlier today, Dermot O’Leary, chief economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers, told Morning Ireland that a report compiled by the company estimates that the unemployment rate may have risen to 17% in March. 

Back in February, there were 182,000 people on the live register, but based on the information Goodbody received from the Department of Employment and Social Protection, that could increase to about 482,000.

“Now, to give you some sort of context on that,” O’Leary said, “relative to the global financial crisis, it took about three years for an increase of that scale, the peak back in 2011, was 450,000.

“So in the space of three weeks, and we’re going to see an increase that exceeds that of the global financial crisis, and at a record level, unfortunately, and the difference here, of course, is in relation to the type of crisis that we’re in. It is the hope at this point in time that this will be a temporary economic crisis. 

So these numbers, when we get the April numbers, will be even worse, unfortunately, in terms of an unemployment rate. And it looks like around 17% [unemployment rate], although the statisticians may have something to say about.

The US company Indeed, which lists job advertisements from around the world on its site, said that there has been a 32% fall in advertisements compared to last year, and this is higher in Italy.

Pawel Adrjan, economist at Indeed, said: “The broad suite of economic supports introduced by the government aims to help businesses sustain employment until things improve, and is amongst the most substantial in the EU – but it won’t protect all jobs.” 

Indeed’s data indicates that under 25s have been particularly hit by the downturn in the labour market. 

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that it is “perhaps the most unique Live Register data ever published by the CSO”.

“[It] reflects both the huge shock to the labour market arising from the public health measures to address the Covid pandemic and the statistical challenge faced by the CSO to accurately measure unemployment in these circumstances.” 

She added that measures had been introduced “at breakneck speed” to provide “immediate relief” and show that the country can rise to challenges. 

Doherty also pointed out that her Department has published an updated information notice for employers and employees, including an FAQ section, which is available here.

Pandemic Payments 

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection says it has paid 283,000 people the weekly Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week, representing almost 90% of applications the Department received for this emergency payment. 

However, approximately 30,000 customers who applied for a Covid-19 unemployment payment before Thursday last did not receive a payment on Tuesday.

“Non-payment may arise for one of two reasons, either because the person applying was ineligible or their application contained incorrect information,” the Department said. 

The Department said it received approximately 15,000 – less than 5% – ineligible applications containing information which may not have been correct. 

The Department says it is making every effort to contact all of these customers as soon as possible, however, this is “proving difficult and will take some time”.

“The best thing for customers to do, if they believe they are eligible, is to go to www.MyWelfare.ie and resubmit their application clearly stating their last date of employment,” a department spokesperson said. 

The Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment is payable to people who have become fully unemployed (including self-employed people). People who have had their hours reduced can apply for the short-time work support. 

So far, more than 35,000 employers have registered with the Government’s wage subsidy scheme for coronavirus which aims to help companies survive and retain staff.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he was encouraged by the uptake of the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.

“I would ask employers who have not yet considered the scheme to do so today.

“It is important to note that those who have already laid-off workers can still avail of the scheme by re-employing them now.

“Those employers who have cash in reserve, and who have been hit by a decline in business, can also still qualify for the scheme.”

Donohoe added that applying for the scheme is not a declaration of insolvency, “as some have suggested”.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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