Unemployment jumps to over 20% in wake of new restrictions

Latest figures from CSO reveal sharp rise in State’s jobless rate in October

The State’s unemployment rate has risen sharply again in the wake of new restrictions to contain coronavirus.

After five months of decline, the Covid-19 adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 20.2 per cent in October, up from a revised rate of 15.9 per cent in September.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which include those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), indicate that as many as 501,640 people were unemployed last month.

The increase reflects the impact of Level 5 restrictions, introduced on October 22nd, which forced all non-essential retailers to close.


"The Covid-19 crisis has continued to have a significant impact on the labour market in Ireland in October 2020," the CSO's Catalina Gonzalez said.

Breaking down the figures by age group, the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 15 and 24, effectively the youth unemployment rate, stood at 45.3 per cent.

The jobless rate, which stood at 4.8 per cent before the crisis, hit a record 28 per cent in April.

Traditional unemployment rate

When those on the Covid-19 payments are excluded, the traditional unemployment measure pointed to a jobless rate of 7.3 per cent in October, unchanged from September’s rate.

“October jobless data highlight scale of downside risks to Irish economy,” said KBC Bank Ireland’s chief economist Austin Hughes.

“In circumstances where many recent indicators point towards smaller than feared impacts on spending and output, these data provide a counterpoint by highlighting the upper boundary of downside risks to the Irish economy from the pandemic,” he said.

Jack Kennedy from recruitment website Indeed said the figures begin to show the effect of more lockdown measures.

“Inevitably, sectors directly affected such as beauty and wellness, hospitality and food service, will feel the impacts more harshly,” he said.

“Yet again, we see already vulnerable labour force groups more exposed,” he said, noting the jump in the youth rate.

“ We are also seeing a disparity between regions, with many of those in western counties at higher risk due to the larger proportion of smaller businesses and consumer-facing roles,” he added.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times