Number claiming pandemic unemployment payment halved since peak

The number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has more than halved since the peak on May 5th, according to the Department of Social Protection.

286,900 people will be paid tomorrow, receiving either €203 or €350 a week depending on their prior earnings. This represents a 52 per cent drop on the 598,000 people who received the payment at its peak.

There has been increased focus on the payment since it emerged that more than a hundred people have had it stopped by the Government for travelling abroad.

Commenting on the payment being suspended, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said:

“The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is paid to people who are genuinely seeking work and living in the State. It is not paid to people who are leaving the country to reside elsewhere or who go on holidays abroad.”

“My Department will of course consider cases whereby somebody in receipt of such payments has to travel abroad for urgent or exceptional reasons such as family illness or bereavement.”

There are almost 27,000 fewer people receiving the payment this week than the one before.

The top three sectors in which employees are returning to work this week are accommodation and food services; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; and construction. The largest cohort returning to work is aged under 25 years.

Minister Humphreys said the reduction was a good sign for the country’s economy:

“I am confident that many more businesses will reopen in the weeks and months ahead as they avail of the most recent Government supports announced in the July Stimulus package.”

An estimated 400,000 employees are currently being supported by the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

There are 780 people currently receiving a Covid-19 related Illness Benefit payment from the Department.