Covid-19 welfare payment numbers fall but huge number still need Government support

Covid-19 welfare payment numbers fall but huge number still need Government support

The number of people availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has continued to fall as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted but huge numbers continue to depend on the Government payment.

The latest figures from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection show there were 498,700 people needing the payment last week, a fall of 32,800 from a week earlier.

The department also said a further 17,900 people will be receiving their last pandemic payment tomorrow.

The PUP is the main Government support to prevent the economy sliding into mass unemployment. People who were in full-time employment before they were shut out of their jobs due to the restrictions receive €350 a week under the taxable welfare payment.

Separate figures from the Rvenue and the CSO show there were a further 410,00 people whose jobs or incomes levels rely on the separate wage-subsidy scheme and 225,600 people who were on the May official live register unemployment count.

Some 114,600 people, or around a quarter of the total, who worked in accommodation and food service continue to account for the largest share under the pandemic payment, as restaurants and pubs prepare to fully open up.

However, areas where the return to work got underway a few weeks ago, including construction, continue to have a large number of employees availing of the payment.

There were 39,700 construction employees receiving a payment last week, down from 45,500 from a week earlier.

The number of wholesale and retail workers needing the payment fell by 9,600 in the week, as shops started to reopen, but the total number of retail workers on the scheme remains at an elevated level, at 63,600.

There were 24,300 manufacturing employees availing of the payment, down by 2,700 from a week earlier.

By region, there were 46,700 people in Cork availing of the pandemic payment last week, down from 50,300 a week earlier.

Gerard Brady, chief economist at business group Ibec, said the gradual fall in the numbers mirrored the experiences of continental European countries that had lifted their restrictions before Ireland.

Chief economist Conall Mac Coille at broker Davy said the department would start to worry if the numbers remain at an elevated level through September.

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