Pandemic unemployment and social disadvantage in Ireland

July 13, 2023
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Previous research has shown that, on average, lower paid workers were more susceptible to job losses during the pandemic. This relates to the fact that many low paid jobs are in sectors that were particularly hard hit by the public health measures. For example, many businesses in the accommodation and food sectors were forced to close at various points during the pandemic, with little prospect for low-paid workers to continue to work remotely.

Our research investigates the economic impact of the pandemic on people living in disadvantaged areas in Ireland. This is carried out by examining whether area-level deprivation affected the number and duration of Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) recipients. This is done by merging a unique dataset of PUP recipients from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) with Electoral Division (ED) level measures of deprivation based on the Pobal Haase Pratschke Relative Deprivation Index (HP Relative Deprivation Index).

Our results indicate that the employment situation of individuals in deprived areas (as measured by the HP deprivation index) was more heavily impacted by pandemic lockdown conditions than was the case for individuals from more affluent areas. Specifically, we find that ED-level Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) rates, which we define as the percentage of working-age individuals in an ED in receipt of PUP, were higher in more deprived areas during lockdown periods. These area-level PUP rates also fell more quickly in more deprived areas once lockdown conditions were relaxed. Consistent with this pattern, average PUP durations were often lower in more deprived areas.