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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Monthly Unemployment

December 2021

Seasonally Adjusted FiguresNon Seasonally Adjusted Figures
 Number of persons unemployed Unemployment rate (%)Traditional Unemployment rate (%) COVID-19 Adjusted Unemployment rate (%)
December 2020149,000 6.26.0 21.7
November 2021135,000 5.24.8 6.9
December 2021132,100 5.14.9 7.5
   Percentage PointsPercentage Points Percentage Points
Change in month-2,900 - 0.1 0.1 0.6
Change in year- 16,900 - 1.1-1.1 -14.2

The COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate for December 2021 was 7.5% for all persons including those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Figure 1 Monthly Unemployment  rate seasonally adjusted
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The results published today show that the COVID-19 crisis has continued to have an impact on the labour market in Ireland in December 2021. While the standard measure of Monthly Unemployment was 5.1% in December 2021, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment could indicate a rate of 7.5% if all claimants of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were classified as unemployed. This alternative measure is up from a rate of 6.9% in November 2021 and down from 21.7% in December 2020.

When comparing the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment in different months, users should consider the impact of Government restrictions on the number of people in receipt of the PUP. Users should note that the PUP was closed to new applicants from 08 July 2021, while the process of possible transition of PUP recipients to a jobseeker’s payment began on 26 October 2021. The scheme has now reopened for individuals, including the self-employed, who lost their employment on or after 07 December 2021 following the introduction of COVID-19 related public health restrictions.

The application of the standard methodology gives a seasonally adjusted Monthly Unemployment Rate of 5.1% for December 2021, down from a rate of 5.2% in November 2021 and down from 6.2% in December 2020. The seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed was 132,100 in December 2021, compared to 135,000 in November 2021. When compared to December 2020, there was an annual decrease of 16,900 in the seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed.  In December 2021, the Monthly Unemployment Rate was 5.2% for males and 5.1% 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 10.6% in December 2021, while it was 4.3% for those aged 25 to 74 years, see Tables 1(b) and 1(c).

The methodology for the standard Monthly Unemployment Estimates involves forecasting the number of persons who are unemployed using the trend in the recipient Live Register series.

As well as the standard Monthly Unemployment Estimates for December 2021, this release also presents an alternative COVID-19 adjusted unemployment measure to estimate the share of the labour force in December 2021 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 December 2021 based on the standard methodology.

If all claimants of the PUP were classified as unemployed, the upper bound, or COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment indicates a rate of 7.5% for all persons in December 2021, with a rate of 7.9% for males and 7.1% for females. Breaking the results down by broad age group, the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment is 11.4% for those aged 15 to 24 years and 7.0% for those aged 25 to 74 years. See Table A1.

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) and later the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), having a connection 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 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 of Monthly Unemployment and considers them as Unemployed for the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment. This assumption would have held in March 2020 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 for all recipients given that some recipients would now be in receipt of it for over 12 months.

While it is not possible to ascertain how those in receipt of the PUP in December 2021 would be classified in terms of official labour market status, any changes to the methodology for the COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment 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 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 designed to be an upper bound rate and that is still the case now.

It should be noted that the Department of Social Protection (DSP) has been paying arrears to recipients of the PUP, to take into account the movement of people in and out of employment. The first arrears payment occurred on 01 December 2020. All PUP arrears paid to date are included in the week of the entitlement period, rather than the week of payment.

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. 

The monthly unemployment estimates published today for December 2021 have incorporated LFS benchmarks up to Q3 2021 for the monthly estimates up to September 2021 while the estimates for October, November and December 2021 have been forecasted.

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