Irish unemployment rate increased to 5.5% in March

Seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed last month was 146,400

The Irish rate of unemployment increased to 5.5 per cent last month, up from 5.2 per cent in February, though down from a rate of 7.7 per cent recorded in March 2021, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed was 146,400 in March 2022, compared with 135,200 in February 2022.

When compared with March 2021, there was an annual decrease of 42,100 in the seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed.

The rate, while higher than the “standard” rate of unemployment seen a month earlier, is lower than the “Covid-adjusted” rate of 7 per cent seen in February, which included people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).

This payment has now come to an end, with people who had been receiving the PUP moving to a jobseeker’s payment.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent relates to all people aged 15-74. Younger people are more likely to be out of work, with a rate of 12.3 per cent among 15-24 year olds and 4.4 per cent among people aged 25-74.

The rate for men was 5.3 per cent and for women it was 5.8 per cent, the CSO said.

“Unemployment rose last month, reflecting what we expect to be another temporary pause in the long-term downward trend we saw for much of last year,” said Pawel Adrjan, economist at global job site Indeed.

PUP recipients moving to a jobseeker’s payment will nevertheless do so in a jobs environment that looks “broadly positive”, with employers “very actively hiring”, Mr Adrjan said, noting that job postings on Indeed on April 1st were up 60 per cent compared with February 1st, 2020.

"However, the current geopolitical situation has created uncertainty, as noted in the Central Bank of Ireland's recent forecast."

In forecasts published in January, the Central Bank said it expected unemployment would average at 5.8 per cent this year, before declining to an average of 5.3 per cent in 2023 and an average of 4.9 per cent in 2024.

But this week it cut its outlook for underlying economic expansion, or "modified domestic demand", by a third to 4.8 per cent, saying Russia's invasion of Ukraine has "sparked a chain of events that presents significant challenges to the outlook for inflation and growth".

Its forecasts for unemployment are now an average of 6 per cent this year, 5.4 per cent in 2023 and 5 per cent in 2024.