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Labour Market Insight Bulletin

Series 3

CSO statistical release, , 11am

Supplementary Labour Market Analysis Q3 2020

Key Findings

  • The number of ‘Actual Hours’ worked per week decreased by 4.0 million hours per week or 5.4% over the year to Q3 2020
  • The number of employed persons who were classed as ‘Away from Work’ increased by 35.6% over the year to Q3 2020, despite the Labour Force Survey (LFS) recording a fall of 1.4% in employment over the same period
  • The number of persons ‘Away from Work’ as a percentage of the numbers employed in Q3 2020 was 13.0% and, while this is higher than the 9.5% observed in Q3 2019 it was down significantly from the rate of 24.9% observed in Q2 2020
  • Some sectors had a lower share of persons employed who were ‘Away from Work’ in Q3 2020 compared to Q3 2019 such as the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, the Financial, insurance and real estate sector and the Public administration and defence sector
  • The sector with the largest share of persons employed who were ‘Away from Work’ in Q3 2020 was the Accommodation and food services sector (22.3%) which is up from 5.8% in Q3 2019 but down from 68.5% in Q2 2020
  • While the number of hours worked per week by those working in the Construction sector decreased from 5.4 million hours in Q2 2019 to 2.6 million hours in Q2 2020, it had increased again to 4.9 million hours in Q3 2020
  • Those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in Q3 2020 were almost twice as likely to self-classify themselves as Unemployed using Principal Economic Status (PES) at 28.1% as to be officially classified as Unemployed (15.3%)
  • In Q3 2020, approximately one in six (16.5%) of all those aged 15-64 years who reported having lost employment or been laid off due to COVID-19 indicated that they did not expect to return to the same job
  • Approximately three in five (58.3%) of all those aged 15-64 years who reported having lost employment or been laid off due to COVID-19 indicated that they had already returned to the same job compared to approximately one in five (18.8%) of those who were receiving the PUP and four in five (80.6%) of those who were benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)
  • Nearly eight out of ten persons in employment (79.2%) reported that their main place of work was the Employers’ or own premises in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 compared to just over a half (53.2%) in Q3 2020
  • Just under one in 20 (4.9%) of persons in employment reported that their main place of work was Home in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 compared to more than one in four (27.6%) in Q3 2020
  • On average, persons working from home carried out 46.8% of their work remotely from home in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 and this increased to 75.4% in Q3 2020

Introduction

This bulletin is the third in a series of outputs designed to provide high-level supplementary labour market analysis to users alongside the standard labour market outputs and metrics. The data used is sourced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and administrative datasets. This bulletin is specifically designed to give some context to the standard LFS results for Quarter 3 (Q3) 2020.

The LFS, which is being published today (17 November 2020) for Q3 2020, is the official source of employment and unemployment estimates for Ireland (see Labour Force Survey (LFS) Quarter 3 2020). The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is obliged to follow specific methodology for the LFS including how a person is classified as employed, unemployed or economically inactive (not in the labour force) using the International Labour Organisation (ILO) concepts and definitions. The ILO criteria do not fully capture the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market – see Information Note on the implications of COVID-19 on the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The Information Note highlights the challenges in the application of the ILO concepts following the introduction of the COVID-19 income support payments.

To give context to the LFS results for Q3 2020, this bulletin presents analysis of how absences from employment and the total number of usual hours worked per week have changed in the year to Q3 2020 along with breakdowns of each by economic sector. These results are presented in Tables 1-3 and Figures 1-3 below.

The CSO publishes detailed weekly data on the COVID-19 income support schemes – see Tables LRW01 to LRW12 at the following link: StatBank

The analyses presented in this bulletin have matched recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) to respondents of the LFS to gain additional insight into the official and self-reported labour market status of individuals in receipt of these income support schemes. These results are presented in Table 4 and Figure 4 below.

Similar to Q2 2020, the CSO added a series of questions to the LFS Questionnaire for Q3 2020 to try to capture some relevant information from respondents on the effects of COVID-19 on their labour market situation that would not have been captured in the standard LFS questionnaire. In Q3 2020, LFS respondents were asked in what way COVID-19 has affected their employment situation. They were then asked a series of questions in relation to expectations of returning to the same job after restrictions have been lifted, their main place of work prior to COVID-19 and at the time of interview in Q3 2020 as well as the share of work carried out at home prior to COVID-19 and at the time of interview. Some results from analysis of these questions are presented in Tables 5-6 and Figures 5-6 below.

Absences from work and actual hours worked per week in the LFS

In the LFS, a person can still be classified as Employed even if not working in a job when interviewed using the ILO criteria as long as they expect to return to the job within three months and/or continue to be paid at least half their wage or salary by their employer (‘Away from Work’).

Those who are classified as Employed on the ILO basis and who worked during the reference week are asked for the number of hours that they actually worked that week (Actual Hours). The estimate of the total number of Actual Hours worked per week in each quarter is calculated by adding together the number of ‘Actual Hours’ worked in the reference week for all persons in employment.

Table 1 presents the numbers in employment, the numbers ‘Away from Work’ and the ‘Actual Hours’ worked per week in Q2 2019, Q2 2020, Q3 2019 and Q3 2020. The annual changes and annual percentage changes are also presented. While the numbers in employment on the ILO basis, which stood at 2,295,200 in Q3 2020, is down -31,700 or -1.4% over the year since Q3 2019, the number of employed persons who were ‘Away from Work’ is up 78,400 or 35.6% over the year. As a result, the number of ‘Actual Hours’ worked is down 4.0 million hours per week or -5.4% over the year having stood at 74.5 million hours per week in Q3 2019 and decreased to 70.5 million hours per week in Q3 2020.

Actual Hours Worked per week
Q2 201976
Q3 201974.5
Q2 202059.2
Q3 202070.5
Show Table: Table 1 Number of persons 15 years and over in employment (ILO), number of persons 'Away' from work and Actual Hours worked per week (in millions), LFS Q2 2019 to Q3 2020

Table 2 presents the number of persons ‘Away from Work’ during the reference week as a percentage of the numbers employed by economic sector from Q2 2019 to Q3 2020. The percentage of all persons in employment who were absent from work in the reference week was higher in Q3 2019 (9.5%) compared to Q2 2019 (6.4%). Given that Q3 2019 covers most of the summer holiday period this difference in the absence rate for the two quarters makes sense. Looking at the breakdown by economic sector for both quarters a similar picture emerges, with a larger share of those employed having been ‘Away from Work’ in Q3 2019 compared to Q2 2019. One notable exception to this is the Accommodation and food services sector where the proportion of those employed in that sector who were ‘Away from Work’ in the reference week decreased between Q2 2019 (6.7%) and Q3 2019 (5.8%).

In general, the absence rate for other economic sectors is moderately higher in Q3 2019 when compared to Q2 2019. The exception is the Education sector where the proportion of those in employment who were ‘Away from Work’ more than doubled between Q2 2019 (17.0%) and Q3 2019 (34.8%). Again, this makes sense as the summer holidays from school for primary and post-primary teachers coincides with a large part of Q3.

The trends in 2019 indicate that there is seasonality to the share of persons in employment being ‘Away from Work’ by economic sector. Comparing the same quarter from 2019 and 2020 allows us to see the non-seasonal changes in absence rates from employment by economic sector and to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the rates for 2020. Table 2 shows that the overall absence rate stood at 6.4% in Q2 2019 and increased significantly to 24.9% in Q2 2020. The sector which showed the least relative change in absence rate between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020 was Public Administration and defence which increased from 6.3% in Q2 2019 to 7.6% in Q2 2020 while there was more than a ten-fold increase the absence rate for the Accommodation and food services sector over the same period (6.7% in Q2 2019 and 68.5% in Q2 2020).

The absence rate in Q3 2020 was still showing effects of COVID-19 but not to the same extent as observed in Q2 2020. The number of persons ‘Away from Work’ as a percentage of the total numbers in employment in Q3 2020 was 13.0% and, while this is higher than the 9.5% observed in Q3 2019, it was down significantly from the rate of 24.9% observed in Q2 2020. Some sectors had lower absence rates in Q3 2020 compared to Q3 2019 such as the Agriculture, forestry and fishing (2.5% in Q3 2020 compared to 2.7% in Q3 2019), the Financial, insurance and real estate sector (7.4% in Q3 2020 compared to 8.3% in Q3 2020) and the Public administration and defence sector (8.1% in Q3 2020 compared to 10.2% in Q3 2019). The sector with the largest absence rate in Q3 2020 was the Accommodation and food services sector (22.3%) and that is also the sector which demonstrated the largest relative difference between the absence rates in Q3 2019 (5.8%) and Q3 2020.

Q3 2019Q3 2020
Agriculture, forestry and fishing2.72.5
Industry6.78
Construction68.5
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles6.48
Transportation and storage 9.220.5
Accommodation and food service activities5.822.3
Information and communication5.86.3
Financial, insurance and real estate activities8.37.4
Professional, scientific and technical activities8.211.5
Administrative and support service activities6.111.9
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security10.28.1
Education34.837.7
Human health and social work activities10.414.2
Other NACE activities 7.813.6
All Sectors9.513
Show Table: Table 2 Absences from work during the reference week as a percentage of the numbers employed by Economic Sector, LFS Q2 2019 to Q3 2020

As outlined in Table 1 above, the total number of actual hours worked per week in Q2 2020 was down 16.8 million hours per week (-22.1%) compared to Q2 2019 while the total number of actual hours worked per week in Q3 2020 was down 4 million hours per week (-5.4%) compared to Q3 2019. This decrease of 5.4% in hours worked in the year to Q3 2020 and the decrease of 1.4% observed for the number of persons in employment over the same period shows an improvement over Q2 2020.

Table 3 presents the total number of actual hours worked per week (in millions of hours) by economic sector from Q2 2019 to Q3 2020. While the number of hours worked per week by those working in the Construction sector decreased from 5.4 million hours in Q2 2019 to 2.6 million hours in Q2 2020, it had increased again to 4.9 million hours in Q3 2020. The number of hours worked in the Accommodation and food services activities sector decreased from 5.1 million hours per week in Q2 2019 to 1.2 million hours per week in Q2 2020. By Q3 2020 the number of actual hours worked per week in that sector had only increased to 3.5 million hours per week on average.

Q3 2019Q3 2020
Agriculture, forestry and fishing4.64.4
Industry10.710.6
Construction5.54.9
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles9.29.4
Transportation and storage 3.53.1
Accommodation and food service activities5.13.5
Information and communication4.74.6
Financial, insurance and real estate activities3.94.3
Professional, scientific and technical activities4.64.6
Administrative and support service activities3.52.8
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security3.84
Education3.53.4
Human health and social work activities8.58.1
Other NACE activities 3.22.6
Show Table: Table 3 Actual hours worked per week by economic sector for persons aged 15 years and over in employment, LFS Q2 2019 to Q3 2020

ILO status and Principal Economic Status (PES) for those in receipt of COVID-19 income supports in Q3 2020

The official measures of employment and unemployment published from the LFS are based on a series of questions that objectively classify a person as Employed, Unemployed or Inactive using the ILO concepts and definitions. The Principal Economic Status (PES), on the other hand, is a subjective self-assessment by the respondent of their own economic status and the labour market status assigned to an individual from the LFS using the standard ILO methodology may not agree with their own subjective assessment of their situation. For example, a person laid off with no assurance of return to work may be perceived by many as unemployed. However, under objective ILO guidelines, unless this person is actively seeking work and available to take up employment within two weeks, (s)he is deemed to be Inactive and outside the Labour Force.

Table 4 presents the percentages of all persons aged 15 years and older who were in each of the ILO and PES categories in Q3 2020. The percentage breakdowns by ILO and PES are also presented separately for those who were in receipt of the PUP and for those who benefitted from the TWSS at the time of their interview in Q3 2020.

In Q3 2020, Table 4 shows that:

  • For all three groups presented, the percentage of those who were classified as Employed on the objective (ILO) basis is higher than the number ‘At work’ using the subjective (PES) basis
  • Just over half of all those aged 15 years and older were classified as Employed using both the ILO or ‘At work’ using the PES measures at 57.6% and 53.9% respectively
  • Of those in receipt of the PUP at the time of their interview in Q3 2020, 58.8% were classified as Employed on the ILO basis while 44.1% classified themselves as ‘At work’ using the PES
  • Of those in receipt of the TWSS, 95.7% were classified as Employed on the ILO basis while 89.4% self-classified themselves as ‘At work’ using the PES

Table 4 also shows that, in Q3 2020:

  • For all three groups presented, the percentage of those who were classified as Unemployed on the objective (ILO) basis is lower than the subjective (PES) basis
  • Those in receipt of the PUP at the time of their interview in Q3 2020 were almost twice as likely to self-classify themselves as Unemployed using PES (28.1%) as to be objectively classified as Unemployed on the ILO basis (15.3%)
  • The difference for all persons aged 15 years and over was of a lower order, 6.4% self-classified themselves as unemployed using PES while 4.4% were classified as unemployed on the ILO basis
  • Virtually all of those benefitting from the TWSS were officially classified as either Employed or Inactive while 0.4% were objectively classified as Unemployed on the ILO basis

Persons who are not classified as either Employed or Unemployed are deemed to be outside the Labour Force and are classified as Inactive and Table 4 shows that, in Q3 2020:

  • The proportion of all persons aged 15 years and older who were objectively (ILO) or subjectively (PES) assessed as being ‘Inactive’ are quite similar at 38.0% and 39.7% respectively
  • Those in receipt of TWSS were two and a half times more likely to classify themselves as Inactive using PES (9.3%) compared to being classified as Inactive on the ILO basis (3.8%)
  • Those in receipt of PUP were slightly more likely to classify themselves as Inactive using PES at 27.8% compared to being classified as Inactive using the ILO criteria (25.8%)
X-axis labelEmployedUnemployedInactive
PUP recipients - ILO58.815.325.8
PUP recipients - PES44.128.127.8
TWSS recipients - ILO95.70.43.8
TWSS recipients - PES89.41.39.3
All persons - ILO57.64.438
All persons - PES53.96.439.7
Show Table: Table 4 Percentage of persons aged 15 years and over and benefitting from the PUP or the TWSS classified by ILO status and PES, LFS Q3 2020

Expectation of return to same job by recipient of COVID-19 income supports in Q3 2020

Of those persons aged 15-64 years who reported having lost employment or been laid off due to COVID-19 when interviewed for the LFS in Q3 2020:

  • Approximately one in six (16.5%) of all those aged 15-64 years indicated that they did not expect to return to the same job
  • Approximately one in four (23.3%) who were in receipt of the PUP indicated that they did not expect to return to the same job
  • Only 2.2% of those who were benefitting from the TWSS indicated that they did not expect to return to the same job
  • Approximately three in five (58.3%) indicated that they had already returned to the same job compared to approximately one in five of those who were receiving the PUP (18.8%) and four in five of those who were benefitting from TWSS (80.6%)
Yes, expect to return to the same jobYes, have already returned to the same jobNo
PUP recipients in Q3 202057.918.823.3
TWSS recipients in Q3 202017.180.62.2
All persons aged 15 years and over25.258.316.5
Show Table: Table 5 Percentage of persons aged 15-64 years whose employment was affected by COVID-19 (self-reported) by expectation of return to the same job and separately for those benefitting from the PUP or the TWSS, LFS Q3 2020

Main place of work and extent of working from home pre-COVID-19 and in Q3 2020

Respondents aged 15-64 years and in employment or away from work during the reference week but with a job to return to were asked where their main place of work was in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 and in the four weeks prior to being interviewed in Q3 2020. In addition, they were asked what share of their work was carried out remotely from home in the same periods. The results show:

  • Nearly eight out of ten (79.2%) employed persons reported that their main place of work was the Employers’ or own premises in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 compared to just over a half (53.2%) in Q3 2020                        
  • Just under one in 20 (4.9%) of persons in employment reported that their main place of work was Home in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 compared to more than one in four (27.6%) in Q3 2020
  • On average, persons working from home carried out 46.8% of their work remotely from home in the four weeks prior to COVID-19 and this increased to 75.4% in Q3 2020
Employers' or own premisesHomeClient's premises or client's homeNo fixed place as usually driving or travellingAnother kind of placeAway from workStarted job at beginning of COVID-19 Pandemic
Pre Covid-1979.24.95.65.42.00.02.8
Q3 202053.227.64.94.01.78.70.0
Show Table: Table 6 Percentage breakdown of main place of work, share of persons who worked at home and average share of work carried out at home for persons aged 15-64 years - pre COVID-19 and Q3 2020

Background Notes

Labour Force Survey (LFS)

The LFS, which was published on 17 November for Q3 2020, is the official source of employment estimates for Ireland. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) are obliged to follow specific methodology for the LFS including how a person is classified as employed, unemployed or economically inactive (not in the labour force) using the ILO concepts and definitions. The ILO criteria do not fully capture the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market – see Information Note on the implications of COVID-19 on the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The Information Note highlights the challenges in the application of the ILO concepts following the introduction of the COVID-19 income support payments.

For further COVID-19 related information go to the CSO COVID-19 Information Hub

Please Note: The Labour Market and Earnings Division of the CSO is compiling a list of users who have registered to be kept informed in relation to relevant announcements from the CSO relating to Labour Market and Earnings, including publication plans from the Division. If you haven't already done so you can register your email address by sending an email to labour@cso.ie asking to be included on this user list.

 

Further Information

Contact
E-mail: labour@cso.ie
Jim Dalton
(+353) 86 678 0316
Martina O'Callaghan
(+353) 21 4535491