Almost one in four people in Irish labor force out of job in January

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DUBLIN, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — Almost one in four persons in the Irish labor force was out of job in January largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest official statistics released here on Wednesday.

The January unemployment rate in Ireland stood at 25 percent if all the claimants of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were classified as unemployed, said the country’s national statistics bureau CSO in a statement.

The PUP is a scheme introduced by the Irish government in the first half of 2020 with the objective of providing state income support for those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Under the current conditions of the scheme which has been adjusted several times over its course, qualified applicants can receive a weekly state subsidy of up to 350 euros (about 420 U.S. dollars).

According to the Irish Department of Social Protection, nearly 480,000 people in the country received the PUP starting from Monday.

If the claimants of the PUP were excluded, Ireland’s January unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, which means another 142,000-plus people in the estimated 2.45-million Irish labor force were out of job in the month, according to the CSO.

The January jobless rate remained unchanged when compared with the preceding month but was 0.7 percentage points higher than January 2020 when the country was yet to be hit by the pandemic, said Catalina Gonzalez, a CSO statistician, adding that the pandemic will continue to impact the labor market.

Ireland is currently under what the government called a Level-5 or highest-level response to the pandemic in order to curb the deadly disease in the country.

Last month, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the government plans to vaccinate over 4 million people out of its nearly 5 million population by the end of September.

But the plan could be delayed due to the shortage of vaccines, said local media.

While the world is in desperate need of more safe and effective vaccines, countries including China, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States have stepped up the development and supply of the vaccines.

According to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 29, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States.

To date, nearly 200,000 people in Ireland have been infected with the virus while 3,512 died since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to the Irish Department of Health. Enditem

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