Managing mass unemployment flows during the COVID-19 pandemic
This report has been peer reviewed prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.
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As an immediate consequence of the COVID-19 health pandemic, Ireland’s standard seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went from 4.8% in February 2020 to an estimated peak of 28.2% in April when those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) are included. Since then, the Central Statistics Office’s COVID-19 adjusted measure of unemployment has fallen gradually from 28.2% to stand at 22.5% in June 2020. Due to COVID-19, Ireland’s Public Employment Services (PES) are likely facing substantial constraints arising from the rapid increase in jobseeker claimants qualifying for, and/or seeking, their employment supports. Furthermore, when the PUP scheme is closed at the end of March 2021 it is expected that PES will have to transfer a large number of individuals from the emergency PUP to the Live Register. These circumstances create a huge administrative burden that will stretch Ireland’s PES. In this study, we use a combination of administrative and Labour Force Survey (LFS) data to both analyse the distribution of COVID-19-related unemployment and propose a process that will help Ireland’s PES identify new PUP claimants likely to be at the greatest risk of subsequently falling into long-term unemployment. The approach is designed to help ensure that limited PES resources can be targeted towards high-risk PUP claimants qualifying for, and/or seeking, employment supports.