475,360 now on PUP as nearly 1m people need government supports in third lockdown 

Fallout from third lockdown of the Covid crisis is broadly-spread across industries
475,360 now on PUP as nearly 1m people need government supports in third lockdown 

Shoppers on St. Patrick Street, Cork. Wholesale and retail workers availing of the PUP increased by around 2,400 in the week to 75,860, compared with 90,300 in May. Picture: Dan Linehan

A further big jump in the number of people requiring pandemic unemployment payments (PUP), up by 15,443 in the week, has brought the total number requiring some sort of aid from the Government during the third lockdown to close to 1m, or half of the State's private sector workforce.           

The figures from the Department of Social Protection show the number of people on the PUP rose to over 475,360, with construction, retail and wholesale, and hairdressing, accounting for sizeable increases.        

However, the fallout from the third lockdown of the Covid crisis is also broadly-spread across industries, with professional and scientific jobs and agriculture and forestry also accounting for significant claimant count increases in the past week. 

Including people whose salaries are subsidised by the State as well as people on the official unemployment count, there are now over 925,000 people requiring some sort of unemployment-employment grant.  

The department also publishes figures for the peak in PUP claimants by industry during the first lockdown, which show the claimant count so far is below the peak of last May. 

Government officials and economists believe there will be fewer on the PUP scheme during this lockdown than in the past, as companies keep working somehow under the restrictions, but no one really knows whether this will in fact be the case. 

At almost 111,570, the figures show that accommodation and food services — industries that again shut for sit-down diners from Christmas Eve — continue to account for the single largest number of staff on the PUP scheme. Numbers rose by 1,200 in the week and compares with the 128,500 from the sector on the PUP last May.

Wholesale and retail workers availing of the PUP increased by around 2,400 in the week to 75,860, compared with 90,300 in May.

Analysts have warned that the number of people from retail on the PUP will likely increase even a retailers try to hang on after Christmas, and as previous economic crises that retail jobs will likely be hardest hit.                       

At 40,857, the fourth-largest number by industry type on the PUP is administration. Numbers there are up 1,300, and compare with 45,800 at the peak during the first lockdown. By county, there were 48,730 people in Cork on the PUP this week, up from 47,447, and compared with 61,900 at May's peak.

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