The impact of the pandemic on jobs in Ireland is one the largest in the European Union, far outstripping the impact in richer northern European countries, according to a new study.
The research from the European Commission comes as the Government edges towards a staged relaxation of tough lockdown rules which have worked to contain the spread of coronavirus but which have hit the economy hard, with a million workers now depending on the State for income.
"The sectors that are marked as non-essential and even explicitly closed because of the high contagion risk they involve account for less than 10pc of overall EU employment, but here the variation is much more significant: whereas in Spain, Greece or Ireland it accounts for more than 13pc, in Romania, Poland, Belgium or even Germany it is around or below 8pc," the report said.
The figure for Ireland is 12.67pc of the workforce, the fifth highest level in the EU.
Although the percentage of workers here affected by the lockdowns is relatively high, they tend to work in less productive areas of the economy such as tourism, so the overall economic impact is not quite as large.
The workers most affected tend to have lower-paid jobs and less security. There are a higher proportion of women in their ranks.
Estimates from the Government show unemployment will remain high even when the pandemic has eased, at 10pc of the workforce, wiping out recent gains made in jobs and wages.
Industries such as tourism are likely to miss the entire summer season as holiday travel has plummeted.
"Overall, it is expected that Covid-19 will bring about marked structural adjustment and protracted disruption in industries and occupations, even more so than a typical economic recession such as the financial crisis of 2008, when it took about eight years for EU unemployment rates to bounce back to pre-crisis levels," the report said.
It said conservative estimates pointed to 45 million jobs in the EU, almost a quarter of the total, faced with very high risk of disruption and another 22pc of the workforce, mostly medium- to lower-skilled service provision, exposed to significant risk.