A second lockdown could see 20% of people unemployed by the end of the year.
That is the worst case scenario outlined in the latest quarterly economic research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
The institute is forecasting the largest recession in Irish history, with GDP falling anywhere between 8.6% and 17.1%.
Kieran McQuinn from the ESRI says the pace at which the economy has crashed is eye-opening.
He says: "Back in the early eighties it took 21 quarters to go from the trough to the peak unemployment rate of around 16%.
"And equally if you look at the financial crisis you are talking about it taking 12 quarters to go from the trough of just under 5% unemployment up to a high of 16% by 2012."
The report by the ESRI also says that the unprecedented increase in public expenditure to combat Covid-19, coupled with the loss in revenue from the fall in economic activity, will lead to a significant government deficit this year.