More than 400,000 jobs were created in the Irish economy between 2014 and the first part of 2020 before the Covid-19 crisis hit and reversed the trend.
Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show the rapid growth in employment coincided with an equally rapid drop in unemployment, which fell to 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
However, Covid-19 began to hit the labour market towards the end of the first quarter of 2020 and the effective shutdown of the economy saw unemployment soar to a record 28 per cent in April.
That figure included workers on the Government’s temporary wage subsidy scheme or those in receipt of the pandemic unemployment benefit.
Many of these people are expected to return to work once the economic restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus are lifted.
The CSO figures show that in the six-year period to the first quarter of 2020 employment jumped by 20.6 per cent or 402,800 to reach an all-time of 2.35 million.
And virtually all (95 per cent) of the increase was accounted for by growth in full-time employment, which rose by 384,900.
All sectors of the economy experienced an increase in the number of employees during the period with the largest percentage increase recorded in construction (48,600 or 90.7 per cent ) and the administrative and support services activities (30,600 or 46.9 per cent).
The number of self-employed persons, however, fell in five economic sectors with the largest percentage decreases occurring in the industry and transport sectors.