The Republic’s Covid-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 24.8 per cent last month as the State and much of the economy remained under lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
This was marginally down on the 25.1 per cent rate recorded in January but higher than the 20 per cent rate recorded in December.
The high rate reflects the impact of Level 5 restrictions, introduced after Christmas, which forced all non-essential retailers and most of the hospitality sector to close.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which include those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), indicate that as many as 596,668 may have been out of work in February.
This, however, does not include the workers having their wages subsidised through the Government’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
The latest jobless data point to a youth unemployment rate of over 56.8 per cent. The traditional unemployment rate, which does not take into account those in receipt of PUP, was unchanged from the previous month at 5.8 per cent, up from 5 per cent 12 months ago.
“February marked one year since the first case of Covid-19 and the upheaval that was to come,” Jack Kennedy, economist with recruitment website Indeed, said.
“ This time last year Ireland was not far off full employment with the unemployment rate standing at 5 per cent. Today, if we use the Covid adjusted measure, that figure is 24.8 per cent, an increase no one would have predicted,” he said.
“While the announcement of lockdown extensions brings more difficult news on top of an incredibly trying year, the decision by the Government to extend financial supports is a positive move,” he said.
“ These supports have provided a much needed lifeline during this time and are crucial to keep employees connected to the workforce, which will help jump start the economy when businesses reopen,” he said.