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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Quarter 1 2020

IndicatorStandard LFS Methodology (ILO) Q1 2020COVID-19 Adjusted Estimates March 2020 (end of Q1 2020)
Employed persons aged 15 years and over2,353,5002,070,371
Employment rate for those aged 15-64 years69.8%61.1%
Unemployed persons aged 15-74 years114,400382,311
Unemployment rate for those aged 15-74 years4.7%15.5%
In labour force2,467,900-
Not in labour force1,490,500-

COVID-19 begins to impact the labour market towards the end of Q1 2020

Figure 1 Numbers in employment (ILO) in the first quarters 2016 to 2020
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The effects of COVID-19 on the labour market are not fully reflected in the results from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in Quarter 1 (Q1) 2020. This is partially due to the timing of COVID-19 implications only causing closure of some sectors for the last two weeks out of the 13 weeks in the quarter (i.e. schools, childcare and public houses) while the full list of the closures was announced on 27 March 2020. This announcement and associated restrictions on employment coincided with the weekend at the end of the reference period for Q1; the last reference week of Q1 2020 ended on Sunday, 29 March 2020. See release Infographic

The LFS is the official source of labour market statistics for Ireland including the official rates of employment and unemployment. These official measures are based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) concepts and definitions. The ILO measures are the international standard and all EU Member States are legally obliged to compile and provide this data to Eurostat on a quarterly basis through the LFS. These ILO criteria are another reason why the LFS will not fully capture the impacts of COVID-19 on the labour market. Please see the Information Note on the implications of COVID-19 on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) which was published yesterday for more information.

As the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is obliged to follow standard definitions and methodology when calculating the usual estimates from the LFS, it has been decided to compile the Quarter 1 2020 LFS estimates in the usual way and provide separate COVID-19 adjusted estimates. This approach preserves the methodology of the LFS while at the same time providing transparency around the current impact of COVID-19 on the Labour Market within Ireland.

The CSO has produced a supplementary measure of monthly unemployment in parallel with the routine Monthly Unemployment Estimates, which incorporates those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payments into the calculation to produce a COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Monthly Unemployment. This new measure was published as part of the Monthly Unemployment Estimates release for March 2020 and April 2020 and will continue to be made available for as long as deemed necessary by the CSO.

As part of the process to generate estimates for the LFS for Q1 2020, the CSO are also making a COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment available. This estimate has been created by subtracting those who were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment at the end of March 2020 from the numbers in employment during Q1 2020. A corresponding estimate has also been produced for the end of April 2020.

In the same way that the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment can be considered an upper bound for unemployment the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment can be considered as the lower bound for employment. The reality is that there is not enough information currently available for those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment at an individual level to know what the labour market status of those individuals are.

The COVID-19 Adjusted Measures of Employment and Unemployment are subject to change when more information becomes available that allows a better estimate of the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market in Ireland to be constructed. The CSO have access to data for those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and those who are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and are currently investigating more targeted COVID-19 Adjusted Measures by matching these and other data sources to the LFS.

Summary points for Q1 2020

  • Using the standard International Labour Organisation (ILO) criteria, the unadjusted number of persons aged 15 years and over in employment stood at 2,353,500 in Q1 2020 with an associated Employment Rate of 69.8% for those aged 15-64 years.
  • At the end of March 2020, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment, or lower bound of the number of persons aged 15 years and over in employment, is estimated to have been 2,070,371 with an associated COVID-19 Adjusted Employment Rate of 61.1% for those aged 15-64 years.
  • By the end of April 2020, this new COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment is currently estimated to have been 1,751,393 with an associated COVID-19 Adjusted Employment Rate of 51.4%.
  • Using the standard ILO criteria, the unadjusted number of persons aged 15-74 years who were unemployed in Q1 2020 stood at 114,400 with an associated Unemployment Rate of 4.7% for those aged 15-74 years.
  • At the end of March 2020, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment, or the upper bound of the number of persons aged 15-74 years who were unemployed, was 382,311 with an associated COVID-19 Adjusted Unemployment Rate of 15.5% for those aged 15-74 years.
  • By the end of April 2020, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment is currently estimated to have been 694,683 with an associated COVID-19 Adjusted Unemployment Rate of 28.2%.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) in Q3 2017. The LFS release for Q3 2017 also incorporated revisions to population estimates based on the 2016 Census of Population.  Adjustments were made to the historic data in Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 to allow comparability with the new LFS for a range of indicators. For other indicators, the series before and after Q3 2017 may not be directly comparable and users should remember this when examining all changes, both quarterly and annual.

Further information is available in the background notes and in the information notes which accompanied the Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 LFS releases.

See: Information Note Q3 2017 and Information Note Q1 2018

 For more information contact Jim Dalton at 087-678 0316 or Martina O’Callaghan at 021-453 5491