New figures released by the Central Statistics Office today showed that absenteeism due to factors such as layoffs, illness, family leave and holidays, rose nearly 20% in the year to the end of September.
In total, 303,200 people — or 12.3% of the workforce — were absent from work during the third quarter.
That’s up from 11.3% or 253,800 in the same period last year, reflecting an increase in illness as well as people taking vacations later than the normal summer period.
However, the latest workforce survey found that there was also a 9.8% increase in employment over the three-month period to 2.471 million.
The survey found that working together resulted in a 6% increase, or 4.3 million overtime hours per week, between July and the end of September.
This brings the number of weekly working hours in the year ending at the end of September to 77.1 million, which is a slight increase compared to 77 million hours in the same period in 2019, before the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Central Statistics Office said that by the end of September, the adjusted employment measure for Covid-19 was estimated to have reached 2,369,731 or 69.1%.
However, by the end of October 2021, it is estimated that this percentage has increased slightly to 69.8%.
149,100 people were classified as unemployed in the third quarter of the year, giving an unemployment rate of 5.7%.
However, when the unemployed due to Covid-19-related absences were included, the adjusted unemployment rate for Covid-19 came in at 8.9%.
By the end of October, this was estimated to have fallen to 7.9%, reflecting many returning to work across a number of sectors that have faced Covid-19 restrictions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the Irish labor market, and this impact first emerged towards the end of the first quarter of 2021,” said Jim Dalton, CSO statistician.
The Central Statistics Office found that employment rose in all sectors of the economy during the third quarter.
Accommodation and food services saw the largest increase with 28.7% or 39,400 in employment, while there was a 17.3% increase in the professional, scientific and technical activities sector.
The number of hours worked per week was higher than a year ago in almost all sectors of the economy and was close to levels seen in 2019.
The housing and food services sector saw a 32.4% increase, reflecting the lifting of restrictions.
Commenting on today’s CSO numbers, the finance minister said they are very encouraging and consistent with other recent indicators, including a 170,000 drop in PUP numbers in the third quarter and the continued strength of income tax receipts this year.
« This confirms that the government’s policy response to the pandemic has been appropriate – reducing scarring and paving the way for a rapid recovery, » Paschal Donohue said.
« I am confident that once the fourth wave of the virus is overcome, our economy and our labor market will continue to strengthen, » he added.
Employment is now close to the 2.5 million target set for 2024 in the government’s economic recovery plan, which is higher than it was before Covid, Tanist and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, said.
« The virus never takes us by surprise and the last few weeks have led to more uncertainty. I know this is really tough for businesses and employees, » Varadkar said.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and the government will continue to be there for those who are struggling. The fact that so many people have been able to get back to work relatively quickly is a testament to the policies in place to help businesses with overheads and maintain contact with their employees.”
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