Almost 600,000 people are receiving the special Covid-19 unemployment payment, with 21,000 applicants due the payment for the first time this week, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has said.
Minister Regina Doherty said the State may have come through the worst of the temporary job lay-offs linked to the pandemic given there was a smaller rise in the numbers receiving the €350 payment this week than previously.
“That said, with over a million people in the country now dependent on some level of State provided income support, the scale of the challenge that this health emergency has posed for our national economy and to so many households is now very clear,” she added.
The departmentsaid on Monday that Covid-19 unemployment payments valued at €207million had been issued to 591,000 people. In addition, there were around 205,000 people on the live register receiving regular job seeker payments.
There were 584,000 receiving the Covid-19 payment last week which, when new applicants are considered, suggests people may be have been reemployed or are being paid under a State wage subsidy scheme introduced in response to the pandemic.
The department said that since the Covid-19 unemployment scheme opened in mid-March, more than 64,000 people had sought to end payments. This was attributed in many cases to employers taking people back onto their payrolls under the subsidy scheme.
Around 347,000 workers remain on the books of their employers and are having their pay subsidised by the Government under the scheme, which the department said more than 49,000 employers had registered for.
Some 36,100 people have been medically certified for receipt of the special €350 Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit.
“This predominantly relates to applications in respect of people who have been advised by their GP to self-isolate together with a smaller number in respect of people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19,” the department said.
Ms Doherty said the priority was to continue to support those who need assistance and help all employers and workers adjust to “the emerging reality that Covid-19 may be with us for a long time to come”.
She said a new Labour Market Advisory Council - involving economists and worker and employer representatvies - met last Friday to discuss public policy responses that could support the recovery of the labour market.
“By anticipating which sectors will be most challenged, by identifying what future skills will be in greater demand and by providing the most effective job activation and employment supports, we will help as many people as possible back to work as quickly as possible,” the Minister said.