Ireland’s jobless rate in May went down slightly to 26.1 percent from the previous month’s figure of 28.2 percent, said the country’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Wednesday.
But the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for May, if based on standard methodology, stood at 5.6 percent, up from 5.4 percent in April, according to the CSO.
On March 16, the Irish government initiated a scheme called COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, under which people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic can get paid by the government at a weekly rate of 350 euros (about 393 United States dollars) for 12 weeks.
The scheme has created a huge burden on the government.
At the peak time, nearly 600,000 people in Ireland were in the receipt of the payment, according to the Irish Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Wednesday that the government’s overall deficit in May jumped to 6.143 billion euros from 63 million euros in the same month of last year.
Earlier last month, Donohoe predicted that the fiscal deficit for this year will increase to more than 23 billion euros, which will account for about 7.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. In recent days, he revised up the figure to 30 billion euros.
The finance minister has repeatedly hinted that such a situation is not sustainable and the government may make adjustments to the scheme while pledging to extend it beyond 12 weeks if needed. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollars)