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Support Intensity

A CSO Frontier Series Output- What is this?

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Key Findings

  • Over 30% of enterprises highly dependent on COVID-19 income supports in January 2021
  • The percentage of enterprises with at least three quarters of personnel availing of COVID-19 income support peaked in April 2020 at over 42% compared to a low of almost 17% in September
  • Almost a third of small enterprises (32.3%) had high levels of COVID-19 income supports in January 2021 compared to 14.7% of large enterprises
  • In January 2021, 37.5% of enterprises in Accommodation and Food Service activities were in the highest COVID-19 income support category
  • Almost a quarter (23.7%) of Retail Sales enterprises had high income support intensity in January 2021
High intensity
(75 - 100%)
Medium high
(50 - 74%)
Medium low
(25 - 49%)
Low intensity
(0 - 24%)
Mar-2032.44.88.754.1
Apr-2042.65.27.145.1
May-2042.35.17.145.5
Jun-2035.84.77.352.2
Jul-2026.14.26.563.2
Aug-2021.14.1668.7
Sep-2016.92.7575.5
Oct-2021.23.25.570.1
Nov-2020.93.35.870
Dec-2021.735.869.4
Jan-2130.34.17.358.3

Three in ten enterprises had high levels of COVID-19 income supports in January 2021

Of the 242,681 enterprises in the base population in 2018, 30.3% had at least three quarters of personnel in receipt of the Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in January 2021, the highest level since June 2020. The number of enterprises with high income support intensity peaked during the first lockdown in April and May 2020 at over 42%.

Conversely, the percentage of enterprises with less than a quarter of personnel on COVID-19 income supports increased as restrictions eased during the summer before peaking at 75.5% in September 2020. The percentage of enterprises with the low levels of COVID-19 income support intensity then fell to 58.3% in January 2021.

The number of enterprises that had between a quarter and three quarters of staff availing of COVID-19 income supports remained steady between March 2020 and January 2021. See Figure 3.1 and Table 3.1.

3.1 Enterprises by COVID-19 income support intensity levels, March 2020 - January 2021

High intensity
(75 - 100%)
Medium high
(50 - 74%)
Medium low
(25 - 49%)
Low intensity
(0 - 24%)
Micro (<10
persons engaged)
30.23.27.259.4
Small (10-49
persons engaged)
32.312.98.945.9
Medium (50-249
persons engaged)
31.59.66.852.1
Large (250+
persons engaged)
14.77.59.368.5

Large enterprises accounted for the lowest proportion of firms with high COVID-19 income support intensity levels in January 2021

In January 2021, 14.7% of large enterprises (250+ persons engaged) had high COVID-19 income support intensity, the lowest of any size class. Small enterprises (10-49 persons engaged) had the highest proportion of high income support intensity enterprises in January 2021 at 32.3%. This was followed by medium sized enterprises (50-249 persons engaged) and micro enterprises (<10 persons engaged) with 31.5% and 30.2% respectively. Almost seven in ten (68.5%) large enterprises had low support intensity in January 2021. This was followed by micro enterprises (59.4%), medium sized enterprises (52.1%) and small enterprises (45.9%).

The proportion of large enterprises with high support intensity peaked in April 2020 at 25.7%. This decreased to a low of 8.9% in August 2020 before rising again in September (10.9%) and October (11.8%). This dipped slightly in November to 9.1% before increasing to 14.7% in January 2021.

Over three in ten (32.3%) small enterprises had high income support intensity in January 2021 compared to peaks of over 48% during the first lockdown in April and May. This decreased to 23.1% in September 2020 before increasing to 32.3% in January. Medium sized enterprises followed a similar trajectory with just over four in ten with high income support intensity during April and May 2020, before decreasing to 23.0% in September and increasing to more than three in ten (31.5%) enterprises in January 2021. See Figure 3.2 and Table 3.2.

3.2 Percentage of enterprises by COVID-19 income support intensity levels and size class, March 2020 - January 2021

Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
Mar-201.3211.26
Apr-2020.712.75
May-2019.711.09
Jun-2016.239.93
Jul-2014.073.48
Aug-2011.591.82
Sep-2010.931.99
Oct-2010.765.13
Nov-205.136.13
Dec-209.65.79
Jan-219.69.44

Large enterprises availed more of WSS compared to PUP

In January 2021, 9.4% of large enterprises had at least half of their personnel in receipt of PUP compared to 9.6% in receipt of WSS support. In April 2020, one in five (20.7%) enterprises had half their persons engaged in receipt of the WSS compared to 12.8% on PUP. In August 2020, as the economy re-opened this decreased to 11.6% for half of personnel on WSS compared to 1.8% on PUP. See Figure 3.3 and Table 3.3.

3.3 Percentage of enterprises with more than half of persons engaged with the enterprise on Wage Subsidy Scheme or Pandemic Unemployment Payment by size class, March 2020 - January 2021

X-axis labelHigh intensity
(75 - 100%)
Medium high
(50 - 74%)
Medium low
(25 - 49%)
Low intensity
(0 - 24%)
Industry27.14.17.561.3
Construction39.33.99.347.6
Wholesale and Retail23.44.59.163.1
Services29.446.160.6

Almost four in ten enterprises in the Construction sector had high levels of COVID-19 income support in January 2021

In the Construction sector, more enterprises had high levels of COVID-19 income support in April (56.1%) than had low support intensity (30.6%). The opposite occurred during the summer and by September 12.7% had high support intensity compared to 81.5% who had low levels of income supports. High support intensity then increased to 39.3% in January 2021 in this sector.

The Wholesale and Retail sector had over six in ten (63.1%) enterprises with less than a quarter of personnel in receipt of COVID-19 income support in January 2021. This was down from 78.4% in September 2020 but higher than during the first lockdown in April (45.8%) and May (46.0%).

In April 2020, a similar proportion of enterprises in the Industry sector had low levels of income support (44.0%) as did high levels of income support (43.4%). This diverged over the summer as restrictions eased and in September 2020 more than three quarters (77.7%) of Industrial enterprises had low levels of income supports compared to 16.2% with high support intensity. In January 2021, more than a quarter (27.1%) of enterprises in the Industry sector had high levels of income support compared to 61.3% with low support intensity.

In the Services sector, more enterprises had low levels of COVID-19 income support than high levels in each month from March 2020 to January 2021. More than half of enterprises had low support intensity during the first lockdown in April (50.6%) and May (50.8%) compared to 38.5% and 38.3% who had high support intensity respectively. As restrictions eased, the proportion of enterprises with low support intensity in the Services sector increased to a peak of 72.0% in September before falling slightly to 60.6% by January 2021. See Figure 3.4 and Table 3.4.

3.4 Percentage of enterprises using COVID-19 employment support by level of usage and sector, March 2020 - January 2021

X-axis labelHairdressing and other beauty treatment (S9602)Building completion and finishing (F433)Restaurants and mobile service activities (I5610)Hotels and similar accommodation (I5510)Sports activities (R931)Physical well-being activities (S9604)
Mar-2056.7554.1137.4827.9536.7654.58
Apr-2059.7461.7144.4948.1351.0557.92
May-2059.5960.9942.2148.9951.3156.88
Jun-2059.6145.338.4548.0648.356.25
Jul-2035.3126.0732.3448.8537.2543.75
Aug-2022.7618.6726.7341.4529.6429.79
Sep-2017.513.5422.9242.8225.225
Oct-2054.7116.829.1847.4935.5945.21
Nov-2055.4217.6228.742.3134.7145
Dec-2057.4819.4930.9548.2836.545.63
Jan-2158.2547.3933.449.1441.3747.71

More than half of Hairdressing and other beauty treatment enterprises had high levels of COVID-19 income support in January 2021

More than half (58.3%) of enterprises in the Hairdressing and other beauty treatment sector had high levels of COVID-19 income supports in January 2021. This was similar to the proportion seen during the first lockdown in April (59.7%), May and June (59.6%), before dropping to a low of 17.5% in September and then increasing to more than half of enterprises from October 2020 to January 2021. 

The Sports activities sector, which includes sports clubs and leisure centres, had 41.4% of enterprises with high level income support intensity in January 2021. This increased from September 2020 (25.2%) but was still lower than the 51.1% in April 2020.

A third (33.4%) of enterprises in the Restaurants and mobile food service activities sector and 44.2% in the Beverage serving activities sector had high COVID-19 income support intensity in January 2021. This had increased from the summer when 26.7% and 37.2% had high income supports in August 2020 respectively. See Figure 3.5 and Table 3.5.

3.5 Percentage of enterprises with high levels of persons engaged availing of COVID-19 State income support by NACE Rev.2 activity, March 2020 to January 2021

High intensity
75 - 100%
Dublin36.1
Monaghan34.8
Offaly34.1
Kildare33.3
Longford33.1
Galway32.5
Louth32.2
Meath31.8
Kerry31.5
All Counties31
Clare30.8
Kilkenny30.2
Westmeath30
Sligo29.8
Cork29.8
Limerick29.7
Cavan29.3
Carlow29.3
Tipperary29
Waterford28
Mayo27.3
Laois26.9
Wicklow26.1
Roscommon25.8
Donegal25.6
Wexford24.7
Leitrim23.3

Dublin had the most enterprises in Accommodation and Food Service activities with high levels of COVID-19 income support in August 2020

Dublin had the highest proportion of enterprises in the Accommodation and Food Service activities sector with high levels of income support intensity in August 2020 at 36.1%. This was lower than both June (47.0%) and July (41.2%). In January 2021, 44.1% of enterprises in this sector in Dublin had high levels of COVID-19 income support.

Monaghan (34.9%) had the second highest proportion of enterprises in the Accommodation and Food Service activities sector with high COVID-19 income intensity in August 2020. This decreased in September to 25.8% before increasing during the winter.

In August 2020, Leitrim had the lowest proportion of Accommodation and Food Service activities enterprises with high income support intensity at 23.3%. This decreased in September to 21.9% before increasing over the winter to 32.9% in January 2021. This was lower than June (37.1%) but similar to July (32.4%). See Figure 3.6 and Table 3.6.

3.6 Percentage of enterprises in Accommodation and Food Service Activities with high levels of persons engaged availing of COVID-19 State income support by county, March 2020 - January 2021

X-axis labelMeat and meat products in specialised stores (G4722)Hardware, paints and glass in specialised stores (G4752)Carpets, rugs, wall and floor coverings in specialised stores (G4753)Games and toys in specialised stores (G4765)Clothing in specialised stores (G4771)Retail sales except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (G47)
Mar-208.7322.8639.423.5840.2924.19
Apr-2013.2447.9759.139.6248.4434.35
May-2013.6344.8759.737.7449.0134.35
Jun-2012.1628.9552.5435.8547.7330.72
Jul-2010.2918.4834.0322.6434.5622.25
Aug-208.8213.8928.3617.9230.9218.36
Sep-206.766.0911.6412.2624.212.66
Oct-207.658.012018.8736.8817.93
Nov-207.757.821.1920.7537.0317.93
Dec-207.657.482022.6437.5518.01
Jan-211020.7345.0729.2543.1823.73

Over one in five retailers had high levels of COVID-19 income support in January 2021

Over one in five (23.7%) Retail Sales enterprises had high income support intensity in January 2021, increasing from 18.0% in December 2020. This compares to more than a third (34.4%) during the first lockdown in April and May 2020.

In January 2021, 43.2% of Clothing retailers had high income support intensity. This compares to almost half (49.0%) that had high levels of COVID-19 income supports in May 2020. This declined to a quarter (24.2%) of Clothing retailers in September before rising to more than a third over the Christmas period.

Similarly, almost half (48.0%) of retailers of Hardware, paints and glass had high levels of income support in April 2020 before decreasing over the summer. However, the proportion remained low over the Christmas period before increasing to 20.7% in January 2021. See Figure 3.7 and Table 3.7.

3.7 Percentage of enterprises with high levels of COVID-19 income support intensity by selected Retail NACE Rev.2 activity, March 2020 - January 2021

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