Economic activity in the eurozone plunged again in May thanks to the lockdowns that have closed most businesses. And although the decline was not as steep as in April when the pandemic first hit the economy hard, there were few signs that a sharp recovery was in the offing.
The most worrying aspect of the report was the bleak outlook for jobs and the prospect of a rash of redundancies when the short-term jobs schemes across the Eurozone come to an end and firing bans are lifted.
Having hit a record low reading of 13.6 in April, the IHS Markit Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 30.5 in May, according to data released yesterday.
That is an improvement in sentiment for one of the most closely-watched economic indicators, but still shows businesses are cutting back rather than expanding. An index reading below 50 is negative.
"The eurozone saw a further collapse of business activity in May but the survey data at least brought reassuring signs that the downturn likely bottomed out in April," said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
While conditions did appear to be easing slightly after the initial shock, there were some worrying signals inside the data. There did not appear to be any easing in the pace of job cuts even as restrictions were lifted and industries started up again.
"According to the survey, businesses indicated that short-time work schemes had helped to keep people at work, but the data does suggest that unemployment is rising significantly across the eurozone at the moment," said Bert Colijn of ING.
The employment composite index of the PMI rose by a tiny amount to 37.4 in May from April's 33.4 and firms said that while furlough schemes had reduced the need to sack staff, longer-term job retention depended on the speed at which order books were filled.
"This doesn't bode well for a fast recovery either as demand will be hit by the lower disposable household income," Mr Colijn said.
The shock also appeared in data from the Central Statistics Office for the first quarter which showed Ireland was at full employment before Covid.
Now, almost one in three people is the State is without a job - counting those on a pandemic payment and those officially listed unemployed.
The Department of Finance is looking for the jobless rate to fall sharply to one in ten by the end of the year and for 115,000 jobs to be created next year. That pace would be more than double the average of 67,000 new jobs that have been created each year in seven years of economic boom.