The number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is at its lowest since December, new figures show.
Around 285,000 people received the Covid-19 jobless payment this week, a decrease of more than 24,000 on last week. 27,108 people in Cork received the payment.
It is the first time the number of PUP claimants has fallen below 300,000 this year.
It follows the reopening of hotels, outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail in recent weeks.
The Department of Social Protection said that €84.3 million in PUP payments will be paid this week.
The figures published on Wednesday are in addition to the 171,699 people who were on the Live Register at the end of May.
The county with the highest number of people receiving PUP this week is Dublin at 97,189, followed by Cork and then Galway at 15,684.
The sector which has seen the largest decrease in the number of PUP claimants is accommodation and food service activities with 5,339 fewer people receiving the payment compared with last week.
This is followed by the wholesale and retail trade, with 4,739 fewer claimants.
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said: “Today’s figures are very encouraging. They show another sizeable weekly fall in the number of people receiving the PUP as our economy continues to recover and businesses reopen their doors.
“Almost 200,000 people have now closed their PUP claims since February, which clearly shows that, as sectors reopen, people are returning to work.
“The number of people receiving the PUP is now at its lowest level since December 2020 and has fallen below the 300,000 mark for the first time this year.
“As the PUP is paid a week in arrears, people who are returning to work this week will be reflected in next week’s figures.
“The reopening of our society and economy is going well. As long as we continue to adhere to public health advice, I am confident we will continue to build on this strong progress over the summer months as more and more people return to work.” As PUP is paid weekly in arrears, more than 11,000 people are receiving a final payment this week and are still counted in the figures.
The sectors with the largest number of employees closing their Pandemic Unemployment Payment claims to return to work are the accommodation and food service activities sector at 5,016, construction at 2,416, and the wholesale and retail trade at 2,284.
New figures also show that some 892 people are in receipt of an Enhanced Illness Benefit payment, compared with 1,095 last week.