Unemployment rate rises to 7.5% as Covid-19 rules hit hospitality

CSO figures point to rise in Republic’s jobless total after period of decline

The reintroduction of public health measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 triggered a rise unemployment last month.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures indicate the State's jobless rate rose to 7.5 per cent in December, up from 6.9 per cent in November.

This was the first time in nearly a year that unemployment rose.

The CSO estimated there were 193,332 people either out of work or in receipt of the Government’s pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) last month.


This gave rise to a Covid-adjusted rate of unemployment of 7.5 per cent.

The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include PUP recipients, was put at 5.1 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent the previous month.

Following the reintroduction of restrictions on December 7th, the Government reopened the PUP scheme, which had been closed to new entrants.

The rise in PUP registrations was the main driver of the increased unemployment rate in December, the CSO said.

Strong position

"We ended 2021 with the labour market in a strong position considering the harsh challenge that Covid-19 posed during the year," said Jack Kennedy, economist with recruitment firm Indeed.

“The Irish economy has again demonstrated its ability to create jobs in large numbers as it bounces back from adversity, with 16,900 fewer people unemployed between at the end of December 2021, compared to a year ago,” he said.

Mr Kennedy believes the “so-called ‘scarring effects’ of the pandemic” in terms of long-term unemployment appear to have been mitigated by Government interventions and underlying high levels of labour demand.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times