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Background Notes

A CSO Frontier Series Output- What is this?

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This CSO Frontier Series Output entitled ‘Impact of selected COVID-19 income supports on Employees’ is the first instalment of the ‘Insights from Real Time Administrative Sources’ Series. The publication analysed the impact selected COVID-19 Income Support Schemes had on the earnings of Irish employees in 2020 in comparison to 2019. The results presented in this publication are based on a number of data sources:

  • PAYE Modernisation (PMOD) payroll data
  • Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) data
  • Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) data
  • Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) data

The linkage and analysis was undertaken by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for statistical purposes in line with the Statistics Act, 1993 and the CSO Data Protocol, available here: CSO Data Protocol.

Before using personal administrative data for statistical purposes, the CSO removes all identifying personal information including the PPSN. All data sources are pseudonymised prior to linking. The Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) is a unique number that enables individuals to access social welfare benefits, personal taxation and other public services in Ireland. The CSO converts the PPSN to a Protected Identifier Key (PIK). The PIK is an encrypted and randomised number used by the CSO to enable linking of records across data sources and over time which is internal to the CSO. Using the PIK enables the CSO to link and analyse data for statistical purposes, while protecting the security and confidentiality of the individual data. All records in the datasets are anonymised and the results are in the form of statistical aggregates which do not identify any individuals.

Main Data Sources 

PAYE Payroll data

The Revenue Commissioner’s PAYE Modernisation (PMOD) employer-employee payroll returns.  PMOD has been operational in the State since 1 January 2019. This data provides information in ‘real-time’ and at payslip level on employee pay, deductions, pension contributions, tax liability, amongst other topics submitted by their employer.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

Revenue’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) enabled employees, whose employers are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to receive supports directly from their employer through the payroll system. The scheme operated in two phases. A transitional phase from 26 March to 3 May and an operational phase from 4 May to 31 August 2020. More detailed information relating to the TWSS can be accessed here: Revenue TWSS Index

Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme

Revenue’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the TWSS and became operational from 1 September 2020. The EWSS is an economy-wide enterprise support that focuses primarily on business eligibility. The scheme provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll and gross pay to employees. More detailed information relating to the EWSS can be accessed here: Revenue EWSS Index

Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to employees and the self-employed who have lost their job on or after 13 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is operated by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Information on qualifying criteria, rates of payment and other information can be accessed here: COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Additional information

Additional information such as sex, age, and county have been taken from both the DSP client record system, along with the CSO’s internally held 2016 Census of population data files 


Analysis Groups

This analysis is limited to people who were employees in the period Q1 2019 to Q3 2020.

Employees in this period include:

  • employees who have not received COVID-19 Support Income;
  • people who were employees in 2020, but have lost their job due of COVID-19 restrictions and were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP);
  • employees who remain in employment and availed of the TWSS or the EWSS.

These employees are grouped into two distinct groups:

Recipients: Those in receipt of COVID-19 income supports (PUP, TWSS or EWSS)

Non-Recipients: Those not in receipt of COVID-19 income supports.

In Section 1 of the analysis, recipients are further broken down into those who received COVID-19 income support payments in Q2 2020 but not in Q3 2020 and those that received support payments in both Q2 2020 and Q3 2020. This allows a more nuanced analysis of this group.

Other Grouping Variables

Sex: Male, Female, Both Sexes

Age Group: Under 25 years, 25 years and over, All ages

NUTS3 Regions and Counties

The regional classifications in this release is based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat. Until Q4 2017, the NUTS3 regions corresponded to the eight Regional Authorities and were amended on 21st of November 2016 under Regulation (EC) No. 2066/2016 and have come into force from Q1 2018

Border Cavan Dublin Dublin City
  Donegal   Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
  Leitrim   Fingal
  Monaghan   South Dublin
West   Galway Mid-East Kildare
  Mayo   Meath
  Roscommon   Wicklow
Mid-West Clare South-East Carlow
  Limerick   Kilkenny
  Tipperary   Waterford
Midland Laois  South-West Cork
  Longford   Kerry

2019 Quintiles: Employees were placed into 5 equal groups based upon their income in the relevant quarter in 2019, the lowest 20% of earners were placed into the 1st Quintile, the next 20% of earners were included in the 2nd Quintile and so on. The median weekly income of Recipient and Non-Recipient employees in each quintile were measured in each quarter in 2019 and was compared to the median weekly income of the same employees in the same quarter in 2020.

Earnings Bands: Employees were placed into 5 Earnings/Income bands based upon their weekly income in each quarter. The change in the number of employees in each band from each quarter in 2019 to the same quarter in 2020 was analysed.

Less than €300, €300-<€500, €500-<€700, €700-<€1,000, €1,000 or more

Variable Definitions

Employee Earnings: Earnings from Revenue’s PAYE Modernisation (PMOD) employer-employee payroll dataset is summarised at the employee level to create gross earnings per employee.

COVID-19 Support Income: TWSS and EWSS subsidy amounts paid via the employer and PUP payments from DSP. These payments are summarised at the employee level.

Employee Income: For the purpose of this analysis employee income is defined as employee earnings plus COVID-19 support income, where applicable. For non-recipients, employee income equals employee earnings. For those without employee earnings, employee income equals income from PUP.

Weekly Earnings: Weekly earnings is calculated at the employee level by dividing the number of active payroll weeks into the gross earnings amount. Where an employee has multiple employment and has paid weeks in excess of 13 weeks in a quarter weekly earnings is calculated by dividing the 13 weeks into the gross earnings amount.

Weekly Income / Weekly Earnings and COVID-19 Support Income:  Weekly income or weekly earnings and COVID-19 support income is calculated at the employee level by dividing the number of payroll weeks and support payment weeks into the total gross earnings and support income amount.

Where an employee has payroll weeks and support payment weeks in excess of 13 weeks in a quarter, weekly earnings is calculated by dividing the 13 weeks into the total gross earnings and support income amount.

Earnings statistics: Median and distributional earnings and income statistics are produced based upon the employee level weekly earnings and weekly income amounts. Statistics are presented by available categorical variable including sex, age group, region, county and income levels.

Employee Level: This analysis was undertaken at an employee level, the employment income of multiple job holders were combined into one employee record. 

Statistical Analysis using a Matched Cohort Approach

Section 1 of this analysis is based on the same panel of employees who were either at work or in receipt of a COVID-19 income support throughout the period Q1 2019 to Q3 2020. This allows an alternative analysis where a consistent group of persons is tracked throughout the period.

Section 2 and 3 of this analysis focuses on the annual percentage change from a quarter in 2019 to the same quarter in 2020. The people included in the calculation are limited to those who are employees or employees who have received COVID-19 income supports. This means there is a different cohort of employees being analysed in each period comparison. This approach was chosen to remove the effect that compositional changes can have on earnings statistics and to isolate the specific impact COVID-19 income supports have had on employee earnings. There may still be an unquantified compositional effect of employees who change employment within or between periods.

When comparing employment earnings of all employees with employee income (employment earnings plus selected COVID-19 income supports) it must be noted that if COVID-19 income supports were not available, it is likely that employees who lost their employment due to COVID-19 restrictions would have been eligible to apply for DSP Job Seekers Benefit or Assistance. This analysis does not take account of this scenario.

Revisions: The data included in this publication are subject to revision as more information relating to employments and earnings for Q3 2020 are lodged by employers with the Revenue Commissioners and the data is subsequently made available to the CSO for statistical analysis purposes. 


The analysis undertaken in this publication excludes the following record from the administrative data sources used. Any records:

  • with an invalid PIK.
  • with missing sex, age, PRSI class or NACE code.
  • in PRSI class ‘S’ or ‘M’.
  • Any records with zero pay amount in a transaction.

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