Preliminary figures show that the Irish economy grew by 3.4% last year, despite the impact of pandemic restrictions.
This increase in gross domestic product (GDP) was mainly due to strong growth in the multinational sector, however, as a measure of activity in the domestic economy dropped by 5.4%.
The numbers from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) highlight the contrasting fortunes of different economic sectors.
Personal spending slumps
Output in the multinational sector rose by 18% from 2019, but areas focused on the domestic market suffered sharp falls in activity as businesses were hit by closures or restrictions.
The distribution, transport, hotels and restaurants sector shrank by 16.7%, while construction output fell by 12.7%. Economic activity in the arts and entertainment sector dropped by 54%.
Government spending increased by almost 10% in 2020 as it introduced a number of pandemic-linked supports for individuals and businesses, but personal spending on goods and services slumped by 9%.
International trade also lifted the GDP figure, as exports rose by 6% and imports dropped by 11%.
850,000 have received PUP payment
Separate CSO figures showed that the number of people receiving employment supports fell slightly in February to 654,545.
This figure does not include those benefiting from the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), who are not yet included in the CSO data.
The number of people on the Live Register was just under 187,000, while almost 469,000 people were receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in the last week of February.
The CSO says the number receiving the PUP has now fallen for three weeks in a row, following seven weeks of increases. It adds that almost 850,000 people have received at least one PUP payment since the scheme was set up last March.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the figures pointed to the dual economic impact of the pandemic, with domestic activities bearing the brunt. He said a further fall in the domestic economy was expected in the first quarter of 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
He welcomed the fall in the PUP figures, saying he was hopeful of continued declines in the weeks ahead.
“The combined impact of a collapse in private consumption as a result of restrictions and extraordinary income supports by the State led to a near €15 billion increase in household deposits last year, some of which should unwind later this year and support the recovery,” the minister said.