The number of people claiming the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment has fallen to 543,200 - a drop of 36,200 in the last week, according to the latest figures from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Of those receiving the payment today, 28,400 have notified the Department that they are returning to work. 21,100 of these will receive their last PUP payment this week
A further 214,700 people were on the Live Register and receiving Jobseekers Benefit at the end of April.
Today's figures mark a significant improvement compared to the peak demand for the PUP, which hit 598,000 some weeks ago.
The fall in claims reflects the first phase of reopening the economy which commenced on 18th May, with outdoor sectors including construction returning to work.
While the numbers receiving the PUP have fallen, the number of those having their wages subsidised under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) has now topped half a million, with over 508,100 having received at least one support payment towards their salary.
The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty said the peak demand for the PUP had now passed "...in parallel with the flattening of the Covid-19 curve."
She forecast that "... each week, if the current progress on the health front holds firm, we will see an incremental drop on the numbers in need of this assistance."
However, the Minister cautioned that not everyone would be able to return to work in the shorter term, and noted that the PUP will be extended beyond the original end date of 8th June.
However, she also flagged that the government would "soon" be bringing forward proposals for reforms to the scheme.
"As we gradually move through all the phases of reopening our society, we do need to review the nature of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and how it fits into cross-Government plans to keep Ireland healthy and get the country working again," she said.
"Any future decisions will be based on our commitment that everyone who needs help will get the most appropriate assistance and also based on the ongoing progress we experience from the reopening of the economy," she added.