Wed, 14 Apr 2021

DUBLIN, Ireland - It will take until 2023 for Ireland to return to full employment following the Covid pandemic, Ireland's deputy leader said Thursday.

Officials also released data on Thursday indicating the hours worked throughout Ireland fell 8.5 percent last year.

"Today's numbers lay bare the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on the economy and employment," Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

"We will need to ensure that we put in place a National Economic Plan to enable a return to full employment no later than 2023."

Since March 2020, Irish businesses have been shut for a longer period than in any other European Union country.

Ireland's current business lockdown is set to continue until April.

Government figures indicate that unemployment stood at 25 percent, as of the end of January. One-third of the unemployed are students.

Meanwhile, the Central Statistics Office has released data detailing how the number of hours worked per week in the hotel and food services sector fell to 2.4 million hours as of the end of 2020, from 5.2 million hours one year earlier.

At the time the pandemic struck, Ireland's unemployment rate was near a 13-year low.

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