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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Catalina Gonzalez (+353) 87 646 7535 Martina O'Callaghan (+353) 21 453 5491
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 2009-8456

This release was compiled during the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information on the methodology applied in this release see the Technical Note on Monthly Unemployment Estimates and COVID-19 that was published alongside the August 2020 Monthly Unemployment Estimate release. For more information please also see the Press Statement Monthly Unemployment October 2020 and the Information Note on Implications of COVID-19 on the Live Register and the Monthly Unemployment Estimates.

CSO statistical release, , 11am

Monthly Unemployment

October 2020

Seasonally Adjusted FiguresNon Seasonally Adjusted Figures
 Number of persons unemployed Unemployment rate (%)Traditional Unemployment rate (%) COVID-19 Adjusted Unemployment rate (%)
October 2019114,200 4.7- -
September 2020180,400 7.37.2 15.9
October 2020180,500 7.36.9 20.2
  Percentage PointsPercentage Points  
Change in month 100  0.0- 0.3  4.3
Change in year 66,300  2.6- -

COVID-19 crisis continues to impact labour market in October 2020

Figure 1 Monthly Unemployment  rate seasonally adjusted
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The COVID-19 crisis has continued to have a significant impact on the labour market in Ireland in October 2020. While the standard measure of Monthly Unemployment was 7.3% in October 2020, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment could indicate a rate as high as 20.2% if all claimants of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were classified as unemployed.

The application of the standard methodology gives a seasonally adjusted Monthly Unemployment Rate of 7.3% for October 2020, unchanged from September 2020 and up from 4.7% in October 2019. The seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed was 180,500 in October 2020, compared to 180,400 in September 2020. When compared to October 2019, there was an annual increase of 66,300 in the seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed.  In October 2020, the Monthly Unemployment Rate was 6.9% for males and 7.7% for females, see Table 1(a).

Breaking the results down by broad age group, the traditional Monthly Unemployment Rate for those aged 15 to 24 years was 19.0% in October 2020, while it was 5.6% for those aged 25 to 74 years, see Tables 1(b) and 1(c).

The methodology for the standard Monthly Unemployment Estimates (MUE) involves forecasting the number of persons who are unemployed using the trend in the Live Register and the latest available benchmarks from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS release for Quarter 3 (Q3) 2020 is scheduled to be published on 17 November 2020 but the benchmarks required for the MUE release for Q3 2020 have been used in this release. The use of the latest available quarterly LFS benchmarks when compiling the MUE release ahead of the LFS publication date is a change that the Central Statistics Office (CSO) adopted for the October 2019 MUE release. This methodological change was made to reduce the frequency and scale of revisions to the MUE series. Please see the Information Note that accompanied the MUE release for October 2019 for more information. The Q3 2020 LFS benchmarks used in the MUE results published today are different to the numbers employed and unemployed that had been forecasted for the months of Q3 2020. This difference is due to the changing impact of COVID-19 on the labour market during 2020 and the limitations of using the trends in the Live Register to forecast changes in unemployment. The addition of the Q3 2020 LFS benchmarks in the MUE process today has resulted in a revision of the headline unemployment rate for September 2020 today to 7.3% from the 5.4% that was published as part of the September 2020 MUE release.

Please see the Technical Note published alongside the August 2020 release which outlines minor changes made to the methodology used for results presented in this release following analysis of recent recipient and non-recipient claims in the Live Register Series.

As well as the standard Monthly Unemployment Estimates for October 2020, this release also presents an alternative COVID-19 adjusted unemployment measure to estimate the share of the labour force in October 2020 that were not working due to unemployment or who were out of work due to COVID-19 and receiving the PUP. These estimates are presented in Table A1.

The lower bound of Monthly Unemployment rates and volumes presented in Table A1 are the non-seasonally adjusted estimates for October 2020 based on the standard methodology. These lower bounds are based on the assumption that none of those in receipt of the PUP would have been classified as unemployed if the payment did not exist.

If all claimants of the PUP were classified as unemployed, the upper bound, or COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment indicates a rate of 18.9% for males and 21.7% for females in October 2020. Breaking the results down by broad age group, the new COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment is 45.3% for those aged 15 to 24 years and 16.7% for those aged 25 to 74 years. See Table A1.

The COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment is estimated to have been 20.2% in October 2020 compared to 15.9% in September 2020. The reference week for the PUP numbers is the week containing the last Thursday of the reference month so, for October 2020, the reference week is the week ending Sunday 01 November 2020. Thus, the increase in the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment that was observed between September 2020 and October 2020 reflects the significant increase in PUP recipients due to the impact of Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions nationally since the middle of October 2020.

The CSO first published the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment in April 2020 as part of the March 2020 Monthly Unemployment Estimates release. At the time, the COVID-19 income supports were set up as temporary measures to protect those who lost income from employment due to COVID-19.

Those benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), having an attachment to their employer, would continue to be classified as Employed using the internationally agreed criteria for reporting on official labour market status. It was not possible to ascertain how those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) would be classified using the labour market status criteria. Because of this, the CSO established the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment as an upper bound measure for unemployment.

This COVID-19 adjusted measure assumes that all those who are in receipt of the PUP would be classified as Employed for the standard measure on Monthly Unemployment and considers them as Unemployed for the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment. This assumption would have been accurate in March when those who started benefitting from the scheme were required to have lost income from employment to be eligible to receive the payment. The assumption is unlikely to hold now given that the scheme has been extended and some recipients would now be in receipt of it for more than six months.

The CSO has been working with the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to obtain additional data which captures the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. Using the online service, information has been captured on whether recipients of the PUP were a full-time student either at second-level or third-level for the current academic year. As most recipients have used this online service to either apply for a PUP or to self-certify their details to continue receiving the payment, analysis of the online information provided shows that at least 8.1% of PUP recipients have self-certified themselves as being registered as a full-time student. For those aged 25 years and over this could be as low as 2.2% and over while it is at least 25.4% for those aged under 25 years.

This analysis indicates that caution needs to be exercised when interpreting the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment particularly for those aged under 25 years. If the PUP scheme did not exist those persons, being in full-time education, would not be eligible to receive Unemployment Assistance or Unemployment Benefit and so would not be included in the methodology to estimate the traditional measure of monthly unemployment.

While, it is not possible to ascertain how those in receipt of the PUP in October would be classified in terms of official labour market status, any changes to the methodology for the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment, including consideration of their education status, would result in a lower rate than the current methodology. Information is not currently available to establish the status of those who are currently in receipt of the PUP based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions for employment and unemployment. Thus, the CSO have decided to continue with the previous methodology for the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment. It is important for users to note that it is a short-term measure and is designed to be an upper bound rate.

The CSO will continue to evaluate the Live Register series as well as the current and any new income support schemes to determine whether any additional changes are required to the methodology for the traditional or COVID-19 adjusted estimates. Any changes the CSO may make to the methodology in the future will be clearly outlined to users in the statistical release and accompanying material.

Data in this release are subject to revision, caused by updates to the seasonally adjusted series, whenever new monthly data are added. In addition, it should be noted that larger revisions can occur when the most recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) data are included in the calculation process. 

For further information on COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment, please refer to our Technical Note (updated for August 2020) and Information Note.


Table 1a Seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment by sex - All persons aged 15-74 years
   Number of persons Unemployment rate (%)
   MalesFemalesAll Persons MalesFemalesAll Persons
Table 1b Seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment by sex - persons aged 15-24 years
   Number of persons Unemployment rate (%)
   MalesFemalesAll Persons MalesFemalesAll Persons
 November22,80015,40038,200 14.811.713.4
 December22,50015,20037,700 14.611.513.2
2019January21,50014,50036,000 14.110.712.5
 February21,50014,50036,100 14.210.412.4
 March22,90014,60037,500 15.110.412.9
 April24,00015,00039,000 16.110.713.5
 May24,80015,50040,300 16.711.014.0
 July23,00015,10038,000 14.911.013.1
 August21,30014,50035,800 13.810.712.4
 September19,70014,30034,000 12.910.311.7
 October17,10014,20031,300 11.410.010.7
 November17,20014,40031,600 11.59.910.7
 December19,00014,90033,900 12.310.111.2
2020January22,60015,00037,600 13.79.911.9
 February22,20015,10037,300 13.610.212.0
 March20,50016,10036,600 13.411.712.6
 May14,80018,50033,300 12.316.114.2
 June17,50020,80038,300 14.217.615.9
 July24,80022,70047,500 18.117.417.8
 August28,60023,20051,900 19.616.818.2
 September33,70025,90059,700 21.717.719.8
 October32,90024,70057,600 21.416.619.0
Table 1c Seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment by sex - persons aged 25-74 years
   Number of persons Unemployment rate (%)
   MalesFemalesAll Persons MalesFemalesAll Persons
Table A1 Covid-19 Adjusted Monthly Unemployment Estimates classified by sex and age group
   Number of persons out of work1 Monthly Unemployment Rate %1
Month  MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
October 2020Persons aged 15-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)89,70781,942171,649
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)253,418248,222501,640 18.921.720.2
 Persons aged 15-24 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)30,95822,49353,451
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)69,64467,400137,044 45.345.345.3
 Persons aged 25-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)58,74959,449118,198
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)183,774180,822364,596 15.518.116.7
September 20202Persons aged 15-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)92,24785,149177,396
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)210,618183,920394,538 15.716.115.9
 Persons aged 15-24 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)33,69226,60060,292 20.817.619.3
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)57,66948,175105,844 35.731.833.8
 Persons aged 25-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)58,55558,549117,104
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)152,949135,745288,694 13.013.713.3
August 20202Persons aged 15-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)91,35489,168180,522
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)208,919196,559405,478 15.717.316.4
 Persons aged 15-24 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)33,25529,24962,504 21.119.520.3
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)57,16151,672108,833 36.334.535.4
 Persons aged 25-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)58,09959,919118,018
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)151,758144,887296,645 13.014.713.7
July 20202Persons aged 15-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)83,55282,489166,041
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)229,589211,030440,619 17.618.918.2
 Persons aged 15-24 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)28,92229,56358,485 19.820.920.3
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)58,39557,166115,561 40.040.440.2
 Persons aged 25-74 yearsLower Bound (Traditional MUR)54,63052,926107,556
  Upper Bound (COVID-19 Adjusted MUR)171,194153,864325,058 14.815.815.3
1 Not seasonally adjusted
2 Revised

Background Notes


The purpose of this release is to provide a detailed series of monthly unemployment estimates. The release contains both monthly unemployment rates and monthly unemployment volumes. 

Calculation of Monthly Estimates

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides benchmark estimates of employment and unemployment for each quarter since the beginning of 1998. These quarterly benchmark estimates are then used to compile monthly data using the Proportional Denton method. The main characteristic of this method is that the monthly Live Register series is used as an indicator to disaggregate the quarterly LFS unemployment series into a monthly series in such a way as to minimise the differences between two consecutive months. It also ensures that the average of three months in a particular calendar quarter is equal to the corresponding LFS estimate.

For months where the quarterly unemployment data is not yet available, the ratio of the LFS monthly estimate to the Live Register monthly estimate (i.e. the benchmark to indicator ratio) is forecast forward in order to extrapolate a monthly LFS estimate. This approach adheres to agreed international practice.

Seasonal Adjustment

To correct for typical seasonal patterns, the data series included have been concurrently seasonally adjusted. This seasonal adjustment is completed by applying the X-12-ARIMA model, developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the case of these monthly unemployment estimates, seasonal adjustment is conducted using the indirect approach, where each individual series is independently adjusted.  To preserve consistency between the individual and aggregate series, the series for gender, age group and total monthly unemployed are then created from these component series. The series for monthly unemployment rates are likewise created from these component series.

Seasonally adjusting the Monthly Unemployment series during the Covid-19 crisis period will be challenging until the scale and shape of its impact on the time series is better understood. This initial seasonally adjusted result might be revised for some months ahead as future observations become available. Users should be aware that there is increased uncertainty around the seasonally adjusted figures during this period.

Additional Background Information

Further information regarding the LFS and Live Register series are available from each respective release.

Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Live Register

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