Figures from the Department of Social Protection show that the number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has fallen below 200,000 for the first time since it was introduced in March 2020.
The department said that it had issued weekly PUP payments to 192,296 people this week – a fall of 9,800 from last week.
In contrast, more than 481,000 people were relying on the PUP in early February of this year – the last time the virus reached a peak.
The biggest reduction – almost 3,000 – was in the category covering accommodation and food services. There were also significant drops in the retail and construction sectors.
Further falls expected
The number of people aged under 25 who received the PUP this week was down by more than 3,000 from last week.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys (pictured) said that the falls showed the progress that had been made in reopening the economy.
She added that she expected further reductions in the PUP figure in the coming weeks, after indoor hospitality was opened this week to those vaccinated against, or recovered from, COVID-19.
As PUP is paid weekly in arrears, 3,770 people who have closed their claim are receiving a final payment this week, and are still counted in the numbers.