One Year On: How Covid-19 Changed the Irish Labour Market

  • Job postings began to recover in January, but remain 24% lower than last year
  • Healthcare and manufacturing sectors recruiting above pre-crisis levels
  • Food and beverage jobs hit hardest, down 62% since last year
  • 13% of job postings now mention remote work (+10 ppts)

17 February 2021

New research from job site Indeed shows how Ireland’s labour market has fared one year on from the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Ireland last February. Overall job postings on Indeed Ireland were 24% lower in early February 2021 compared with the pre-pandemic baseline on February 1st 2020. However, despite more lockdowns, this figure has not returned to the low of -54% seen in early June.

In fact, Ireland has shown signs of improvement, closing the gap by 6 percentage points this year so far. This chimes with the job pickup seen generally across Europe in January (Fig. 1). Poland saw the biggest recovery in job postings, up 10%, followed by Italy, up 7%. Overall, Ireland’s recovery is currently faring better than that of the UK or Spain, but is behind the other five EU countries examined.

Sectoral impacts from COVID-19 have been very uneven. Only healthcare and manufacturing have job postings exceeding their pre-pandemic baselines (Fig.2). Sectors impacted most by social distancing remain far below those levels, including food and beverage (-62%), customer and personal services (-45%) and construction (-36%).

Jack Kennedy, economist at job site Indeed said: “This past year has undoubtedly been one of the toughest on record for many dealing with job losses or business closures, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. A successful vaccine rollout could mean face-to-face service sectors like hospitality and food service could make a comeback later in the year. This would be of significant benefit in helping to limit the rise in unemployment as these sectors are labour-intensive. It would also benefit younger workers who have borne the brunt of the crisis, with the youth unemployment rate standing at 56% on the Covid-adjusted measure”

Remote work has seen a big jump in interest. The proportion of job postings mentioning remote work has increased from 3.6% to 13.4% over the past year. Some occupations have seen particularly large jumps in the share of remote job postings. The highest prevalence of remote work is in arts & entertainment, tech, engineering and business roles (Fig. 3). Similarly, searches for remote work quadrupled over the same timeframe, with most of the uplift seen in periods of tight lockdown, with a big jump in spring 2020 and a further increase over the winter.

Jack Kennedy continued:Some sectors saw a higher proportion of jobs offering remote work, a key thing to watch is the extent to which this trend persists longer-term. With industries like arts and entertainment, it’s likely as a result of a temporary shift which may recede once in-person events are allowed and on-site staff are needed once again. However there are other sectors, such as IT and marketing, for which more remote work is here to stay.”

“Clearly, the outlook for the economy this year is dependent on the course of the pandemic. The impact of vaccines and other public health measures, along with the duration and stringency of restrictions remain key uncertainties. Hiring in consumer facing sectors in particular won’t recover until the virus is tamed.” 



Fig 3. 



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