The state’s adjusted unemployment rate fell to 12.4 percent in August, its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, as the gradual reopening of the economy saw more people return to work.
This is down from 13.5 percent in the previous month and 17.1 percent in August last year.
The latest unemployment figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate that economic activity is rebounding in conjunction with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
According to the Central Statistics Office, as many as 335,178 people remained either unemployed or receiving state pandemic unemployment payments (PUP) in August.
The youth unemployment rate remained high at 25.6 percent, but also decreased from previous months.
The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include PUP recipients, is set at 6.4 percent, marginally down from the July figure.
These figures come as the government this week signaled a gradual end to restrictions with public transport returning to full capacity on Wednesday and the easing of restrictions on indoor and outdoor events scheduled for next week.
There will be more changes on September 20, as offices will begin to reopen while rules for physical distancing and mask-wearing will end in most circumstances on October 22.
“Today’s numbers provide some positive news, with the downward trend continuing in both the revised Covid rate and the record unemployment rate,” said Jack Kennedy, economist at the employment site Indeed.
“The hope is that pent-up demand for sectors such as nightlife and entertainment may provide a boost to these businesses, as people look to be abandoned after the shutdown,” he said.
However, the challenge facing companies now is a potential labor shortage. “There is no doubt that the pandemic has made a lasting change in people’s relationship to their work, with many hoping to continue the flexible and remote work opportunities that the pandemic has offered,” Kennedy said.
“We are likely to see companies become more competitive to attract and retain employees in this new world of work. This goes beyond just increasing wages – flexibility and luxury are now the main currency in attracting talent.”
Andrew Webb, chief economist at Grant Thornton Ireland, said the latest figures “continue to reflect the deep economic pain of the past 15 months, but labor market indicators seem to be constantly moving in the right direction, and a more sustained sense of optimism is evident.”
He said new research from the professional services firm shows that 76 per cent of Irish companies are optimistic about the future of the economy over the next 12 months, and nearly four in 10 Irish companies expect jobs to increase as society returns to normal. “If this optimism continues to work, the economy appears poised for a strong performance at the end of the year,” he said.
“Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante.”