If ever there was a time when the concept of six degrees of separation seems more real than ever before, it’s now.
Running alongside the health crisis the country is facing is the economic crisis. And most people know someone who has been affected detrimentally by one or both. It could even be themselves.
We recently ran a survey to gain a deeper understanding of the impact the jobs market has sustained due to Covid-19. Today we share those findings with you.
A rapid increase in unemployment
In January 2020, the Irish Times reported that unemployment in Ireland stood at 4.8%. This was the lowest figure in 13 years.
Fast forward a few short months and this figure is drastically altered. In early April, the Irish Post stated that the Central Bank of Ireland estimates that unemployment could be as high as 25% by the summer.
These numbers are really difficult to stomach, not least because behind them stand hundreds of thousands of people and households facing huge financial stress.
The government support schemes, most notably the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, are designed to reduce the impact the pandemic is having on the economy.
The Wage Subsidy Scheme, in particular, has been implemented to try to save jobs, and its effect is clear in some of the responses to our survey.
Finding 1: How Covid-19 has affected people’s jobs
While the jump from 4% to (possibly) 25% unemployment is alarming, responses to our survey show that there is a wide spectrum of changes people are experiencing in their employment status.
In total, 1,112 people responded to our survey.
The findings of how the pandemic has affected people’s jobs is broken down as:
The “Other” category includes:
- Self-employed workers who have lost all, or nearly all, of their customers/clients
- Professionals who had completed a fixed-term contract and were beginning to search for a new role but are now struggling
- Professionals who had secured a role at a company (i.e. a new job) but the start date has now been deferred until the situation improves
- Workers who are now working longer hours as the industry they’re in is busier than previously due to this crisis (i.e. people in retail)
Finding 2: The changes to people’s working hours
Nearly 5% of the respondents to our survey told us that their working hours had been reduced.
This reduction has been significant. On average, working hours have been decreased by 46%.
Finding 3: The changes to people’s salary/wages
More than 10% of our respondents reported a reduction in their salary as Covid-19 bites deeper.
Our findings indicate that the average reduction in salary has been 28%.
Combining both time and remuneration considerations, a few respondents also told us that they’re working different hours now but not being compensated for overtime.
Finding 4: The changes to people’s roles
Close on 9% of our respondents have experienced a change in their job’s duties. These changes include:
Being moved to a different department/role
Supporting projects outside the normal scope of their role
Increased responsibilities on their shoulders with the fear of a paycut looming
An increase in demanding targets to meet due to higher demand for their business
Finding 5: The breakdown of how various industries have been affected by Covid-19
The lockdown restrictions in Ireland are most likely going to be extended, and as such unemployment numbers, and the impact industries are sustaining, will change. And as Covid-19 has shown, change can happen at very short notice.
That said, not all industries have been affected to the same degree by the pandemic.
Although the sentiment being shared on social media that “we’re all in this together” is warm and encouraging, the truth is that different parts of our society are being affected in different ways.
The unemployment figures reflect this. The top 10 industries most affected by the pandemic, as per the responses we received to our survey, are:
- Hotel and Catering: 14.8%
- IT: 8.9%
- Marketing 6.7%
- Construction, Architecture and Property: 5.9%
- Retailing, Wholesaling and Purchasing: 5.1%
- Tourism, Travel and Airlines: 5.1%
- HR and Recruitment: 3.7%
- Advertising: 2.9%
- Banking, Financial Services and Insurance: 2.9%
- Charity and Not For Profit: 2.9%
What will Ireland look like once this is over?
The purpose of the survey was to dig deeper into the numbers behind the high-level unemployment rate at the present moment. In a month or two, these numbers could look very different.
The initial shock of the lockdown restrictions is starting to wear off. At the time of writing this post, Ireland is in its fourth week of lockdown. People and businesses are beginning to find their “new normal”.
But a resounding question is starting to make itself felt across news and social media channels. What will the future Ireland look like once this is over?
It’s likely that changes to people’s behaviour have been so altered that some changes are here permanently. (At the very start of the lockdown, talk of a V-shaped bounceback dominated the news. Now pundits are more circumspect and cautioning that the road back to recovery could be long.)
And just as the unemployment figures are higher among some industries than others, the recovery won’t be experienced equally either. Some industries may make up lost ground faster than others.
The tourism industry illustrates this.
No one knows how much longer the lockdown restrictions will be in place, and the lifting of them will be a gradual process.
John Fitzgerald writes on economics for the Irish Times. His recent article speaks of how “the major economic disruption in Europe could last through the summer, meaning that the fall in annual output in the Republic for 2020 could be more than 10 per cent.”
He goes on to say that “even with a good recovery in the autumn, the decline in unemployment is likely to lag the recovery in output. For certain sectors, especially tourism, it could well be 2022 before they see a return to normal trading conditions.
There is some good news
Good news, these days, can seem a relative term. But any glimmer of hope is worth thinking about.
We recently shared our post on the state of hiring in Ireland. The news is serious, there’s no doubt, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Some industries are hiring, and hiring managers and recruiters are still focused on securing talent.
On a macro level, last week the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released analysis that suggested that the impact Ireland sustains from the pandemic might be the “least severe of all OECD countries”.
This may be of scant comfort now, but it does bode well for when the recovery can fully begin in earnest. After all, a stable jobs market contributes significantly to a stable society.
About the author: Maura O'Hea is the Managing Director of Next Generation. She is responsible for the creation and implementation of the company's business strategy and company-wide objectives. Extensive experience in both contingency and managed service recruitment, operations management and a history of enabling others to successfully achieve productivity and sales goals. Maura’s personal goal is to run a financially successful operation that allows all of its employees to reach their full potential in an environment that is both challenging and supportive.