Ireland aims to return to full employment by 2023 at the latest
DUBLIN, Feb.25 (Reuters) – Ireland is aiming for a return to full employment, where just about everyone who wants a job has one, no later than 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday after data showed that hours worked in the economy fell 8.5% last year.
Irish businesses have been cumulatively shut down for a longer period of time than any other country in the European Union over the past 11 months and have returned to a strict lockdown since late December which is expected to last at least until April.
The percentage of people temporarily or permanently unemployed stood at 25% at the end of January. The government says a third of those temporarily laid off and receiving COVID-19 emergency payments are full-time students, who would not normally be classified as unemployed.
They see the variation in hours worked as a reasonable indicator of the impact of the pandemic on the labor market.
Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of hours worked per week in the hardest-hit accommodation and food services sector more than halved to just 2.4 million hours at at the end of 2020, up from 5.2 million a year earlier.
“Today’s figures expose the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the economy and jobs,” Varadkar said in a statement.
“We will have to ensure that a National Economic Plan is put in place to allow a return to full employment by 2023 at the latest.”
Ireland was nearing what many economists saw as full employment before the pandemic when unemployment fell to its lowest level in 13 years, at 4.6%. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Angus MacSwan)