The number of people receiving unemployment benefit is set to rise by around 300,000 for the month of March as a direct result of the Covid-19 shutdown, according to a report from Goodbody Stockbrokers. 

The stockbrokers said the latest Live Register figures, due out today, will show that 482,000 people are now claiming unemplyment payments - by far the largest ever monthly increase.

Goodbody's has estimated that the unemployment rate may have risen to 17% in March, up from 4.8% in February. 

And this is before the impact of last week's restrictions, which closed further swathes of economic activity - including construction sites - and will cost yet more jobs. 

Dermot O'Leary, chief economist with Goodbody, said it is not yet known when economic life will be allowed to restart and thus how long double-digit unemployment will persist. 

"As pubs, shops, hotels reopen their doors, there will of course be a sharp fall, but returning to pre-Covid levels will likely take years," the economist said. 

He said that like other economies, Ireland is no different in relying on the advice of epidemiologists and health professionals as a key input into when restrictions will be removed and thus what shape economic recovery will ensue. 

"Given the experience of other countries, particularly China, we would be of the view that a full removal of the restrictions in developed economies is unlikely any time soon," he said.

"When restrictions are loosened, they will be differentiated by sector and possibly region too. This makes a V-shaped recovery unlikely in our view," he added.

Mr O'Leary also said it is safe to say that the post Covid-19 work environment will be very different for the labour market. 

While there will be a bounce back in some sectors, he said he has concerns about other sectors. 

He said travel restrictions in a domestic setting could have a lingering effect on the travel and tourism sector, which accounts for 10% of employment in Ireland. 

The Head of Policy with the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (INOU) also said she does not believe that the hoped for V-shaped recovery will happen. 

Brid O'Brien said just six weeks ago most people who have now lost their jobs thought they were in secure employment but are now unemployed. 

In addition, she said, the supports that are normally in place for the unemployed are now also on hold. 

She welcomed the work subsidy scheme and the attempt to keep people linked to their employers and said she hoped this would be successful. 

She added that she hoped the Government could maintain the increased income supports of €350 a week for as long as the crisis lasts. 

Brid O'Brien said it is very difficult for people to suddenly manage having time on their hands and how they look to their future and plan.