The number of people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is now at its lowest level since the introduction of the Government support in March 2020.

There will be 192,296 people receiving the PUP this week, a drop of 9,856 over the past seven days.

The largest reduction was in the accommodation and food services sector, with 3,000 fewer recipients compared to last week, followed by wholesale and retail trade, and construction.

In terms of age, the greatest decrease was in the under 25 group with 39,144 receiving the payment this week, compared with 42,308 last week – a reduction of 3,164.

The PUP figures published today are in addition to the 175,281 people who were on the Live Register at the end of June.

The Department of Social Protection said the payments issued this week are valued at €56.92 million.

Overall, the bill for the PUP now stands at over €8.3 billion.

"For the first time since its introduction, the number of people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has fallen below the 200,000 mark," said Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.

To put this into context, Minister Humphreys pointed out that there were over 481,000 people receiving on the PUP in early February of this year – the last time the virus reached a peak.

"That number has now fallen by around 60% - clearly demonstrating the progress we are making in re-opening our economy and getting our citizens back to work," she said.

The figures published today show that Dublin continues to be the county with the highest number of people receiving the PUP this week at 71,981, followed by Cork at 17,053 and Galway at 10,159.

While the accommodation and food service sector recorded the largest decrease in numbers this week, it is still the sector with the highest number of people receiving the payment at 44,678.

This is followed by wholesale and retail trade at 29,440 and administrative and support service activities at 21,457.

As restrictions ease, the Department of Social Protection is reminding people returning to work to close their claim on their first day back in work.