The number of unemployed people dipped slightly last month but remained extraordinarily high due to the Covid crisis, new figures show.
The State’s jobless rate fell to 20.4 per cent in December versus 21 per cent a month earlier, according to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
These figures include individuals in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
If the 336,000 people in receipt of PUP are excluded, the jobless rate is 2.5 percentage points higher than in December 2019 at 7.2 per cent.
Excluding PUP recipients, there were 179,400 people unemployed in December 2020, versus 183,300 a month earlier and 115,600 for the same month a year earlier.
Not much relief
Jack Kennedy, an economist at recruitment website Indeed, said the December figures did not provide much in the way of relief, despite the economy briefly reopening during the month.
“While the year ahead may pose some new challenges as the longer term impacts of the pandemic come to light, there is good reason to be optimistic,” he said.
“There’s every chance that once the vaccine rollout is widespread, sectors like hospitality could make a roaring comeback as deferred spending comes back on stream. This could greatly help limit the rise in unemployment as these sectors are labour-intensive, so a rebound in activity should translate to robust hiring,” Mr Kennedy added.