UNEMPLOYMENT rates may end up reaching 25% by the summer, according to the Central Bank of Ireland.
In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, job security has fallen through the fall for the majority of industries around the world.
Irish joblessness leaped from 4.8% to a whopping 17% last month as businesses and employers struggle to deal with the impact of gathering and travel restrictions.
Due to lockdown measures, industries such as hospitality and tourism have been brought to their knees, and it's feared that as companies struggle to keep their heads above water, job losses could continue to rise.
The jobs of up to 500,000 people are threatened temporarily by the pandemic but, such is the severity of the economic hit, the Central Bank said there was huge uncertainty about "the potential depth and persistence of the downturn currently under way" and warns about the potential for "more persistent scarring effects" should the fight against the virus need to be extended through the summer.
A 25% peak unemployment rate was not matched during the worst of the years of the banking and property crash of more than a decade ago, as the global Covid-19 crisis is set to deliver a double whammy by hitting household spending, as well as reducing demand for Irish exports.
In terms of the economic hit, the Central Bank assesses that, under a 12-week shutdown, unemployment would fall back to around 12.5% by the end of the year and that GDP would shrink by 8.3% in 2020. Under an alternative measure, output could slide by 25% in the quarter.
"The near-term outlook for the economy is very unfavourable and, beyond that, the path ahead for the economy depends on the path of the virus, both domestically and globally," the Central Bank said.
The CSO said that a total of 513,350 people were on the official Live Register at the end of March, including 283,037 receiving the pandemic unemployment payment, and 25,104 covered by the Covid-19 income-subsidy scheme.