The Covid-19 crisis has hit employment in rural areas harder than in cities and could keep joblessness stubbornly high if lockdown measures achieve "only limited success in containing the virus", the Central Bank says.
Its quarterly bulletin published today outlines 'baseline' and 'severe' scenarios for the extent of economic damage that Covid-19 could inflict on Ireland through 2022. Both presume sharp losses this year followed by a 2021 recovery.
But Mark Cassidy, the Central Bank's director of economics and statistics, warned that Ireland's path to recovery could take even longer if Britain fails in coming months to strike a free trade agreement with the EU. Resorting to World Trade Organisation rules with Ireland's top trading partner would knock a further one to two percentage points off Irish growth from 2021 onward, Mr Cassidy said.
"Brexit aggravates the situation, particularly for agriculture and food," he said.
However, the Covid crisis also "brings forward" the failure of some firms that would have been ruined by a hard Brexit anyway, he said.
My mid-June, more than 1.1 million people - 47pc of the national workforce - were on Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme or normal unemployment allowances.
The report breaks down the share of people on State supports county by county.
Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin are lowest with around 42pc of workers on supports. Half in Galway are. Nearly three in five in Louth, Donegal, Kerry and Wexford are. Carlow is the only county to top 60pc.
Mr Cassidy said rural jobs tended to be more vulnerable to lockdowns because of work involving "more physical interaction", including tourism and food processing.
The 'baseline' model presumes that Ireland's current phased withdrawal from lockdown will broadly do the job with only limited and localised setbacks.
The 'severe' scenario could play out if the virus makes a serious comeback in the autumn or 2021. This would produce longer restrictions on society and "a larger permanent loss of output", the Central Bank found.
Either scenario puts Ireland on course for a slump in performance at least twice as bad as worldwide norms.
The IMF expects economic output worldwide to fall this year by 4.9pc, itself a staggering figure. By contrast, global output fell by only 0.1pc during the depths of the financial crisis a decade ago.
Yet even in its relatively benign 'baseline' projection, the Central Bank foresees Ireland's GDP falling by 9pc this year. It would recover to 5.7pc growth in 2021 and a further 4.5pc in 2022 if a second pandemic spike is avoided.
The 'severe' scenario would see GDP drop by 13.8pc this year, then recover to 4.9pc growth in 2021 and 5.4pc growth in 2022 - but from a much lower base point. The Irish economy would be nearly 20pc smaller than if Covid-19 had never happened.
Mr Cassidy said it was impossible to know which scenario was more likely.
"We do not have any view whatsoever regarding the probabilities of these two scenarios," he said.
"We have spoken to epidemiologists as part of our intelligence gathering, and there appears even among that community enormous uncertainty about the path of the virus."