Labour market records strong finish to 2020, but overall job vacancies remain 23% below pre-Covid levels – new jobs figures


Remote work vacancies experienced notable growth, increasing by 50% quarter-on-quarter, according to Q4 2020 Jobs Index

  • Job vacancies experienced 5% quarter-on-quarter increase in Q4 2020
  • Overall vacancies remain below pre-Covid levels, down 23% year-on-year
  • Most resilient sectors include healthcare, pharmaceutical, food, and IT
  • Tourism, travel, and hospitality remain the most vulnerable
  • GM Orla Moran: “When we look at our latest Jobs Index, what becomes apparent is the sheer resilience of Irish businesses who have adapted and adjusted quickly to the new Covid reality.”

Despite being in the grip of a third wave of Covid-19 cases, Ireland’s employment market shows positive signs of recovery as job vacancies see 5% quarter-on-quarter increase, according to the latest (Q4 2020) Jobs Index from e-recruitment platform

The index, which analyses quarterly job vacancy data, reveals that job postings for Q4 2020 were 23% lower when compared to Q4 2019, demonstrating the overall impact of the pandemic on the employment market.

However, in contrast to the March–May lockdown, when economic activity ground to a halt, the employment market was more resilient in the final quarter of the year as businesses showed signs of adapting to the new Covid reality.

According to the data, overall job vacancies increased by 5% in Q4 2020 compared to Q3, despite the introduction of Level 5 (October/November) and Level 3 (December) public health restrictions.

Sectoral analysis

The most resilient sectors in 2020 include:

  • Science, pharmaceutical and food (+161% YoY increase in job vacancies, +34% QoQ)
  • Medical professionals and healthcare (+123% YoY, +4% QoQ)
  • IT (+49% YoY, +19% QoQ)
  • Construction (+5% YoY, + 31% QoQ).

Each of these sectors posted both year-on-year (2019 vs 2020) growth and quarterly (Q3 2020 vs Q4 2020) growth in job vacancy creation, according to the report.

Other sectors posting vacancy growth in Q4, despite experiencing year-on-year declines, include publishing, media and creative arts (+67%), customer service, call centres and languages (+13%), HR & recruitment (+8%), and sales (+4%).

However, sectors most vulnerable to a tightening of public health restrictions, including the tourism, travel, and airlines (-96% YoY, -36% QoQ), hotels and catering (-82% YoY, -25% QoQ), and beauty, hair care, leisure and sport sectors (-56% YoY, -12% QoQ), continue to bear the brunt of the Covid-19 downturn.

Continued growth of remote work

The index also shows a sharp demand for remote working opportunities, with a 53% increase in people searching for work-from-home roles from January 2020 to December 2020. 

In correlation, the number of jobs that offer working-from-home as a location, has increased by 1754% compared to this time last year, with a quarterly increase of 50% (Q3 2020 vs Q4 2020).


Orla Moran, General Manager of, said:

“In order to assess the full extent of the shock to the Irish economy resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, up-to-date indicators of Irish economic activity are essential.

“When we look at our latest Jobs Index, what becomes apparent is the sheer resilience of Irish businesses who have adapted and adjusted quickly to the new Covid reality.
Unlike the March-May lockdown, when the employment market experienced a sharp decline, job vacancies began to rise towards the latter half of the year. The growth in vacancies in Q4 last year is a particularly encouraging trend, illustrating how many businesses have continued to recruit despite the introduction of additional lockdown restrictions.

“However, what we are experiencing is a two-speed job market, whereby the professional services and exporting multinational sectors mostly shrug off the effects of the pandemic but service-oriented sectors, like hotels, beauty, and travel, whose employees and customers are required to be physically present, bear the brunt of the economic downturn.

“As we continue to navigate through the pandemic in coming months, Government must factor this potentially unequal recovery into its economic planning providing sufficient support measures for those directly impacted by prolonged closures and restrictions. Our data analysis from Summer 2020 show that once restrictions are lifted, hiring swiftly resumes.  While there is certainly room to proceed with optimism in the months ahead, we must ensure this is balanced with a degree of caution as the reopening of the economy is largely dependent on the efficient, effective and speedy rollout of the vaccination programme.

“What is particularly thought provoking is to see the changes to how we work reflected in our data. In the latest index, we have tracked the notable increase in working-from-home vacancies that have grown steadily in line with the increased demand for remote working.

“Working from home has been a long-discussed practice in Ireland, and the Covid pandemic has certainly accelerated its uptake. However, while the introduction of remote working may be an obvious choice for most employers in the current environment, it must also be a longer-term consideration when managing the return to the workplace.

“The demand for working-from-home opportunities is continually growing amongst career seekers and following the Government’s recent announcement on the proposed National Remote Working Strategy which gives employees the right to request remote working, this is something that all employers will be confronted with once workplaces are able to reopen.”


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