Almost 480,000 people will receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week, an increase of 4,269 or less that 1%, according to the latest figures from the Department of Social Protection.
The rate of increase in claims is slower than last week’s rise of 3% – though the claims figure is still well below the peak of around 600,000 seen last May.
This week’s payments will cost just over €144 million, bringing the total cost of income supports under the PUP scheme since its launch last March to over €5.6 billion.
Around half of those availing of the scheme are receiving the top rate of €350 per week.
Today’s figure of 479,633 PUP recipients does not include the 189,860 people on the Live Register at the end of December.
When the two are combined, almost 670,000 people currently out of work are totally dependent on the state for income support.
This figure in turn excludes workers still in employment whose pay is being supplemented via the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.
Counties Carlow, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Waterford and Westmeath saw a reduction in numbers receiving PUP over last seven days.
The sectors with the highest number of PUP claimants this week are Accommodation and Food Service activities (111,809), followed by Wholesale and Retail Trade (76,367) and Construction (62,534).
Construction accounted for the largest weekly sectoral increase in claims (up 1,375) followed by Wholesale and Retail (up 506), and Manufacturing (up 404).
On a positive note, over 23,000 people closed their PUP claims in the month of January to return to work, with 7,330 doing so within the last week.
The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the latest figures suggested that the overall PUP numbers were starting to plateau again.
“I am pleased to see that despite the Level 5 restrictions, over 23,000 people closed their PUP claims in January as they returned to work,” the minister stated.
However, she cautioned that despite these positive signs, the worst possible thing people could do right now would be to drop their guard.
Meanwhile, the number of people receiving the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week dropped from 9,718 last week to 7,520 over the last 7 days – reflecting the lower number of cases being reported.
In total, 126,295 people aged under 66 have been medically certified to receive the payment since it was launched last March, though a large proportion of those would be self-isolating on a precautionary basis, rather than actually contracting the virus.
Minister Heather Humphreys pledged that supports such as the PUP and the Enhanced Illness Benefit will continue to be made available to people impacted by the pandemic.
She also reiterated that people told to self-isolate should avail of the Covid Illness Benefit rather than going to work, shopping or traveling on public transport, as they would place the lives and health of others at risk.
The sectors with the highest totals of medically certified employees are Wholesale and Retail (27,457) followed by Human Health and Social Work Activities (21,765) and Manufacturing (16,861).