Irish COVID-19 jobless claims drop slightly, larger falls to come

FILE PHOTO: A man affixes a Christmas tree to the exterior of a restaurant that shuttered due to the government’s highest level of lockdown restrictions, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Galway, Ireland, November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The number of people in Ireland claiming temporary coronavirus-related jobless benefits fell slightly to 348,300 over the last seven days, data showed on Monday, ahead of a fall of up to 150,000 expected by government as the economy reopens.

Recipients stood at 351,424 a week ago, having risen by almost 150,000 since Ireland began to tighten COVID-19 curbs in September, two-thirds of them under the top level of constraints that were largely unwound throughout last week.

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“In the past seven days, some 28,682 people closed their PUP claim, with 25,350 stating that they were doing so because they are returning to work. It is expected that many more people will return to work in the coming week,” the social protection department said in a statement.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Chris Reese