A new analysis by the Central Bank finds that counties in the west and along the Atlantic Economic Corridor suffered a greater initial employment shock when Covid-19 restrictions were introduced earlier this year.

This is because of pre-existing employment patterns and structural issues there.

The economic letter found Clare, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo have a distinct enterprise structure that is more heavily reliant on micro-enterprises.

They also have a historical pattern of concentrated employment towards tourism, agriculture, traditional sectors and public services, the research finds.

As a result, the greater initial adverse impact on jobs should not have been surprising, the letter by Reamonn Lydon from the Central Bank and Luke McGrath of the Western Development Commission claims.

Kerry and Donegal had almost a third of their labour force in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) at the peak back in April, it finds. 

But the same counties also saw the largest percentage decline in PUP during the summer reopening phase, as large numbers of workers moved onto wage subsidy supports. 

Since the reintroduction of fresh restrictions though early indicators suggest this pattern has been reversed, the study finds, with the same regional variations emerging.

In particular, the number of younger and female workers supported by wage subsidies has increased significantly in recent months.

As a result, the authors find that the policies in place to support household incomes and firms will be essential for Western counties as long as restrictions remain.

They also find that job postings on Indeed.com at county level indicate caution should be exercised in inferring that the challenge of the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis will be based purely on short to medium term exposure. 

At a national level, the ratio has increased from three unemployed persons per job posting prior to the pandemic to 14 by last month. 

However, in the Atlantic Economic Corridor counties there were 22 unemployed persons per job posting in September.

A second letter published by the Central Bank today examines how wage subsidies have supported job retention in recent months. 

That analysis finds that during the phased re-opening, workers in consumer-facing sectors increasingly moved onto the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). 

Younger, female workers have increasingly taken up wage subsidy supports, whilst older males have moved off the scheme.

It says that while in the short-term liquidity supports for firms, income supports for workers and job retention is warranted, in the longer-term when there is greater certainty, it will be important to consider how the EWSS can be structured to help firms move to a situation where they can be viable without state assistance.