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Press Statement


26 February 2021

COVID-19: One Year On

A snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on Ireland based on statistics compiled by the Central Statistics Office
  • On the basis of mortality data reported to the Department of Health there have been more than 4,000 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland over the last 12 months, with more than 1,000 of those deaths occurring in the last four weeks
  • In February 2021, 42% of respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as ‘Low’ – the highest such rating for overall life satisfaction captured in CSO surveys to date
  • The share of employees in Q3 2020 with weekly earnings of ‘less than €300’ fell to 12.3% of all employees when COVID-19 income supports are included
  • The number of hours worked per week decreased by 6.6 million hours per week or 8.5% over the year to Q4 2020
  • There was a near collapse of air and sea travel with 31.4 million fewer arrivals and departures in 2020 compared to 2019
  • Almost a quarter (23.2%) of enterprises surveyed in August 2020 planned to make remote working permanent in some capacity

Go to release: COVID-19 Information Hub

Link to Infographic

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (26 February 2021) published COVID-19: One Year On. This snapshot gives an overview of the impact of the virus on the country over 12 months from the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ireland on 29 February 2020, based on statistics published by the CSO over that period. The knowledge that behind every statistic is a real person or a business is at the heart of all that the CSO does and will continue to do to bring clarity, insight and transparency around what is happening in our economy and society due to the COVID-19 virus.

The CSO has responded to the pandemic by continuing to produce key statistical publications, adjusting traditional formats such as our Monthly Unemployment and Live Register publications to meet European requirements while still making sense of the figures from an Irish perspective. We have created innovative products using new data sources and new data collection techniques in an effort to meet the need for real time data; these new sources have included anonymised mobile phone data in our Staying Local Indicator and using to map deaths in as close to real time as possible.

As a result of these new approaches to statistical production, we know that the percentage of people who stayed within 10km of home in the first week of January 2021 (68.6%) was the highest level recorded at any point since April 2020. We know that by 02 January 2021, the number of journeys by bus and rail were 78.3% lower than pre-COVID-19 levels and that in Q3 2020 alone households had saved an extraordinary €2.3bn more than in Q3 2019.

We know that proportionally, Dublin, Donegal, Limerick, Louth and Monaghan were the counties hardest hit in terms of COVID-19 cases, while Cavan, Dublin, Kildare, Mayo and Monaghan were proportionally the counties with the most deaths. We know that most confirmed cases of the virus were amongst the 25-44 age group, while 93% of all COVID-19 reported deaths were among those aged 65 years and over. We know that in the week ending 29 January 2021, there were 317 COVID-19 related deaths - more than 10% of all virus-related deaths to that date.

We know that in April 2020, seven in ten (70.4%) enterprises had lower than normal turnover, and that between 27 July and 23 August 2020, more than 96% of responding enterprises were trading in some capacity, 2.5% of enterprises had ceased trading temporarily while 1.2% had ceased trading permanently. We know that in June 2020, the median spend of implementing measures to comply with COVID-19 requirements on small businesses with between 20 and 49 employees was €4,000. This median spend increased to €42,500 for large enterprises. 

We know people bought 29,000 fewer cars last year when compared to 2019, while the combined number of new electric and hybrid cars licensed in 2020 was 15.7% greater than those licensed in 2019 or 2,251 more cars.

We know there was an increase of 3% in the volume of bicycle journeys in Dublin city during off-peak hours in December 2020 compared with the same month in 2019 and of the 164,400 persons arriving in Ireland in December 2020, 135,900 (82.7%) arrived by air and 28,500 (17.3%) arrived by sea.

We know that almost 17% of women felt lonely ‘All or Most of the time’ in the four weeks prior to interview in February 2021 compared to 9.2% of male respondents, and in November 2020, more than four in ten people said their consumption of junk food and sweets ‘increased’ since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. We know that almost half of respondents in February 2021 with a child in fifth or sixth year in secondary school said enforced school closures had a ‘major negative’ impact on their child’s learning, and that adults are spending an average of 52 minutes per day helping primary school children in their household with schoolwork since the schools remained closed after Christmas.  We also know that almost 30% of people reported in November 2020 that spending more quality time with the people they live with was an aspect of their lives that has changed for the better.

Commenting on the release, Pádraig Dalton, Director General, CSO, said: "The last 12 months have been very difficult for everyone and particularly for those who have been ill or indeed lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus. We are very conscious that behind every statistic, whether it relates to a death, a positive virus case, a Pandemic Unemployment Payment or other State support, is a person or a business. Many of the statistics we produce at the CSO are based on information provided by the thousands of people and businesses around the country who completed our surveys, even in the face of such challenging circumstances. We thank you all for your input and appeal for continued support of our Household and Business Surveys. The CSO can compile such comprehensive reports only…Because You Told Us.”


Highlights for Editors from the CSO’s COVID-19 Information Hub


Business Impact

The majority (96.3%) of enterprises surveyed were trading in some capacity with 63.3% trading at normal levels and 33% trading at partial capacity between 27 July and 23 August 2020.

Consumer Price Index

The annual average rate of inflation in 2020 was -0.3%, marking a five-year low and compares to a rise of 0.9% in 2019 and an increase of 0.5% in 2018.

Retail Sales Index

Retail sales in December 2020 were 10.4% higher than in February 2020 before the crisis started. The sectors which were lower than February were bars (-62.4%), books, newspapers and stationery (-11.1%), department stores (-4.5%) and fuel (-0.7%). All other sectors had sales greater than they had in February 2020. The sectors with the highest increases since February were hardware, paints & glass (+30.5%), food, beverages & tobacco (specialised stores) (+23.3%), motor trades (+20.4%) and other retail sales (+21.8%).

Residential Property Price Index

Residential property prices (houses and apartments) increased by 2.2% nationally in the year to December. This compares to an increase of 0.2% in the year to November and an increase of 0.3% in the twelve months to December 2019.

Credit and Debit Card Spending

By the week ending 14 December 2020, new spending on debit and credit cards had increased significantly to €1,854 million, a rise of 111.9% from 16 April 2020.


Labour Market

Monthly Unemployment

While the standard measure of Monthly Unemployment was 5.8% in January 2021, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment indicates a rate as high as 25.0% if all claimants of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment were classified as unemployed. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2020 was 5.0%, down from 5.1% in January 2020 and equivalent to the 5.0% observed in February 2019.

Labour Market Analysis

The number of actual hours worked per week decreased by 6.6 million hours per week or 8.5% over the year to Q4 2020.

Live Register

The seasonally adjusted Live Register total for January 2021 was 190,500, down 4,200 from December 2020. In the last week of January 2021, 479,633 persons were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. The seasonally adjusted Live Register in February 2020 total recorded a monthly decrease of 1,400 (-0.8%) bringing the seasonally adjusted total to 183,800. The number of persons on the Live Register in February 2020 was the lowest number recorded in the seasonally adjusted series since January 2008.

Labour Force Survey

Employment decreased in seven of the 14 economic sectors over the year to Q4 2020 and increased in the other seven. The largest rate of decrease was recorded in the administrative & support service activities sector (-26.8% or 30,000) while the largest rate of increase was recorded in the information & communication sector (9.3% or 11,800).

Income Supports

COVID-19 Income Supports reduced the negative impact of the pandemic on employee income.


Social and Well-being

Mobility During the Pandemic

An estimated 66.7% of the population stayed local (within 10k of home) during the week ending 12 February 2021 according to the Staying Local Indicator (SLI), a seven-day rolling average.

Social Impact

Almost six in ten respondents to the February 2021 Social Impact of COVID-19 survey believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health.

Social Impact on Perceptions and Expectations

Nearly 45% of respondents in November 2020 reported that something in their lives has changed for the better since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis with more than one in two (51.0%) women and almost four in ten (38.4%) men reporting this.  

ICT Usage

Uploading self-created content (such as photos, music, videos or text to any website to be shared) increased by seven percentage points to 38% of internet users in March 2020 (31% in January).

Women and Men

Male respondents in November 2020 were more likely to report ‘Better work life balance’ (12.1%) and ‘Less time commuting or travelling for work’ (15.5%) as positive outcomes since the crisis began. The comparable rates for female respondents are 8.4% and 11.4% respectively. 

Debt Sustainability
Household income, with COVID-19 income supports, fell by between 0.1% and 4.2% in the year to Q2 2020 for lower income households, but would have fallen between 18% and 30% in the year to Q2 without supports.



Deaths and Cases

People living in areas where more than 25% of the population live in rental accommodation were worst affected by the pandemic accounting for 53% of all cases.

Measuring Mortality

The use of terms such as ‘private’, 'broadcast' and 'webcam' in death notices increased significantly from March 2020, with ‘webcam’ mentioned almost 500 times between March and May 2020 compared with only 30 mentions in the five months to the end of February according to CSO analysis of death notices.

Profile of COVID-19 in Ireland

When looking at COVID-19 cases and housing, 49% of households owned their house with a mortgage or loan, 32% of households were owner occupied without loan mortgage and 26% of cases were renting in April 2016.


Transport, Energy and Tourism

Air and Sea Travel

Less than 4.5 million overseas passengers travelled to and from Ireland throughout 2020. This compares to 20.1 million and 20.2 million overseas arrivals and departures respectively in 2019.

New private licensed cars

The number of new private cars licensed for the first time in January 2021 was 16,948 compared with 20,665 in January 2020, a fall of 18.0% or 3,717 less cars, while the combined number of new hybrid and electric cars licensed in January 2021 was 29.5% greater than those licensed in January 2020 (5,581 compared to 4,308).

Fuel Excise Clearances

Kerosene clearances in 2020 were 17.7% higher than in 2019 reflecting an increase in demand for home heating oils.

Transport Bulletin

In the week beginning 24 January, car traffic volumes were 55.2% lower in regional locations and 53.0% lower in Dublin when compared with the same week in 2020 as Level 5 travel restrictions remain in place.

For further information contact:

Information Section (+353) 21 453 5028

or email

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