The number of people claiming temporary coronavirus-related jobless benefits fell by four per cent over the last week ahead of a substantial reopening of the economy, data showed on Tuesday.
Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) claims dropped to 385,211 from 403,095, the Department of Social Protection said.
The total rose as high as 480,000 in February when the closure of most shops, building sites and all hospitality facilities pushed the unemployment rate to close to 25 per cent.
This... reflects the start of the recovery phase from this pandemic
All remaining construction resumed in Ireland on Tuesday, May 4th, ahead of a broader easing of Covid restrictions on May 10th.
Under the Government's reopening plan, retail stores and personal services are set to fully reopen in mid-May. The hospitality sector will partially reopen in early June, when bars and restaurants are permitted to serve guests outdoors.
Speaking today about the latest PUP figures, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “For the first time this year, the number of people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has fallen below the 400,000 mark.
“This is a very positive development and reflects the start of the recovery phase from this pandemic.
“As restrictions are eased further over the coming weeks, tens of thousands more people will be in a position to close their PUP claims as their industries reopen and they return to work.
“For people who are not yet in a position to return to work, the PUP will continue to be paid at its current rates and will remain open to new entrants until June 30th.
“At the end of May, we will set out the future of PUP post June 30th taking account of the trajectory of the virus, progress on the vaccine roll out and the continued impact of the pandemic on the economy over the months ahead."
The Minister reiterated that there will be no "cliff-edge" for the supports at the end of June.
Over 385,000 people will receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week, a decrease of almost 18,000 on last week
Read more in this week's update on #COVID19 Income Supports here: https://t.co/uXwFnICmkn#COVID19ireland pic.twitter.com/gIuzw6rQyn
— Department of Social Protection (@welfare_ie) May 4, 2021
Dublin is the county with the highest number of people receiving the PUP this week at 125,105. It is followed by Cork, with 37,980 recipients, and Galway with 20,987.
The sector with the highest number of people receiving the PUP this week is accommodation and food service activities (99,140), followed by wholesale and retail trade (63,361) and construction (37,437).
The construction sector has seen the largest decrease in the number of people receiving the PUP this week, with 4,896 fewer people receiving the payment compared to last week.
The past seven days saw 12,692 people close their PUP claim, stating that they were doing so because they are returning to work. Dublin had the greatest number of people closing their claims to return to work (3,776), followed by Cork (1,233) and Kildare (684).