Tougher public health measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 triggered a rise in unemployment to 7.5 per cent last month, up from 6.9 per cent in November.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office show 193,332 people either out of work or in receipt of the Government’s pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) last month.
The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include PUP recipients, was put at 5.1 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent the previous month.
Following the reintroduction of restrictions on December 7th, the Government reopened the PUP scheme, which had been closed to new entrants.
The rise in PUP registrations was the main driver of the increased unemployment rate in December, the CSO said.