The labour force stood at just over 2.5 million people (2,533,200) in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest Labour Force Survey from the the Central Statistics Office.

This was an increase of 274,000 or 12.1% on the same period in 2020.

The CSO said the participation rate rose from 56.9% to 63.1%.

Today's figures show that the number of people in employment rose by 211,000 or 9.9% to 2,349,100 giving an employment rate of 68.6%. This compares to 63.2% in the second quarter of last year.

The numbers employed are also up 52,900 (2.3%) on the second quarter in 2019.

The Covid-adjusted rate of employment was 61.7% at the end of June but is estimated to have risen to 64.3% at the end of August.

The Covid adjusted measure of unemployment, which takes into consideration those on the PUP, was 16.2% at the end of the second quarter but this has since fallen further to 12.4% at the end of August.

While the number of hours worked has increased compared to the second quarter of 2020 when pandemic restrictions were in place, it is still down compared to the second quarter of 2019.

There were 75. 9million hours worked per week in the second quarter of this year, down 2.6 million hours or 3.4% on the same time in 2019.

The number of people employed but absent from work rose by 78,100 or 54.7% from 142,800 in quarter two 2019 to 220,900 in 2021.

However, it is down from a high of 468,500 in quarter two of 2020.

Employment in all sectors rose in the second quarter on an annual basis with the numbers employed in industry up 10% compared to the same period in 2019.

However, employment in some sectors still lags behind pre-pandemic levels. There were 60,000 or a third fewer workers employed in the Accommodation and Food sector compared to the second quarter 2019 and 18,900 or 12.9% fewer construction workers in employment.

The long term damage done by Covid to the labour force can also be seen in the increase in the long-term unemployed defined as those without work for over a year.

The long-term unemployment rate rose from 1.1% in the second quarter 2020 to 2.0% in the second quarter of this year.

The percentage of the unemployed who are now long-term unemployed rose from 21.2% in quarter two 2020 to 26.9% in the second quarter 2021.