New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the Covid-19 adjusted unemployment rate stood at 20.4% in December as the Covid-19 crisis continues to have a significant impact on the labour market. 

This figure includes people who are receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and is down from 21% in November.

The CSO said the standard measure of monthly unemployment stood at 7.2% in December, down marginally from November's revised rate of 7.3%.

The jobless rate had stood at 4.7% in December 2019. 

Today's figures show that if all claimants of the PUP were classified as unemployed, the Covid-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment indicates a rate of 19.6% for men and 21.3% for women. 

Breaking the results down by broad age group, the Covid-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment shows a jobless rate of 44.8% for those aged 15 to 24 years and 17% for those aged 25 to 74 years.



Strict Covid-19 restrictions, including the closure of restaurants and a ban on home visits, were in place in November and were reimposed in late December until at least the end of January following a surge in infections. 

More workers are set to sign up for PUP as a significant majority of construction projects are set to close for January except for essential projects, including social housing and essential public works under new Covid-19 restrictions. 

Commenting on today's figures. Jack Kennedy, economist at jobs site Indeed, said that December's unemployment figures did not provide much relief at the end of a rough year, despite the economy briefly re-opening. 

"Continued pandemic uncertainty and Brexit negotiations running down to the wire meant it was a stressful and uncertain time for businesses trying to plan for 2021," Jack Kennedy said. 

But while the year ahead may pose some new challenges as the longer term impacts of the pandemic come to light, the economist said there is good reason to be optimistic. 

"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," he said.

"As the fog begins to clear over the coming months we should start to see employers across the board become more confident about their forecasts, which will allow them to reinstate paused hiring or expansion plans," he added.

He also said that with a Brexit agreement now in place, and the UK's migration policy pivoting, Ireland may see more interest from Europeans who would have previously looked to the UK. 

"This could be good news for sectors that traditionally face talent shortages such as tech and healthcare," the economist concluded.