Global unemployment payments soar

7 Apr 20

Millions of job losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic are putting governments around the world under huge financial pressure to meet unemployment payments.


In Ireland, more than 700,000 people (about 15% of the population) are now dependent on benefits, with 507,000 people being given a Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment on 3 April, according to government figures.

Since the payment scheme launched on 16 March, the Department for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has processed 583,000 applications.

If the number of recipients remains at its current level, the Irish government will pay out €177.5m each week in unemployment support payments alone.

Department Minister Regina Doherty said: “The scale of demand for the Covid-19 payment demonstrates the once-in-a-century nature of the emergency facing the country.”

Elsewhere in Europe, now the epicentre of the pandemic, the Norwegian government has said more than 400,000 people (14.7% of the workforce) are now registered as jobseekers, after a 360% increase in full unemployment and a 274% increase in partial unemployment – those with part-time jobs but looking for more work – in March.

Spain’s labour minister Yolanda Diaz said the 9.3% rise in unemployment in March was the country’s highest-ever monthly increase, although the current total (about 3.5 million) remains lower than the record high of more than six million seen in 2013.

In the UK, 950,000 people – nearly 3% of the working-age population – successfully applied for benefits in the two weeks from 16 March.

Almost seven million people in the US filed for unemployment benefits in one week alone (ending on Friday, 27 March), after three million had done so the week before.

This was the highest level of new claims ever recorded. In the final four months of 2008 – after the financial crash – US Labor Department figures showed 2.4 million jobs were lost, which was then the highest level in more than 60 years.

Did you enjoy this article?

Related articles

Have your say


CIPFA latest

Most popular

Most commented

Events & webinars