I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. As the Deputy will be aware, this country faced an unprecedented shock to the labour market because of the pandemic, with more than 1.7 million claims for support and 871,500 people claiming at least one pandemic unemployment payment since the payment was introduced in March 2020. The equivalent figure for those who claimed at least one PUP payment residing in County Wicklow is 25,730.
Following the easing of public health restrictions in recent months, our economy has witnessed a dramatic recovery, with strong outflows from the PUP as persons returned to work. This week, just over 57,000 persons remain in receipt of the PUP with 1,730 persons on the PUP in County Wicklow.
To respond specifically to the Deputy's question, recent preliminary analysis published by my Department from mid-September 2021, identified that 553,000 persons returned to work since the start of July 2021, after having received their last PUP payment. In County Wicklow, between March 2020 and September 2021, 16,100 persons exited the PUP and returned to work, representing 62.6% of all individuals in that county who claimed the PUP since the introduction of the payment. This proportion of PUP recipients returning to work in County Wicklow is broadly in line with the national average of 63.5%.
Since this analysis was conducted in September, a further 467 PUP recipients in County Wicklow reported returning to work as their reason for exiting the PUP, which is also broadly in line with trends in PUP recipients returning to employment nationwide.
It is important to be aware that a labour market shock such as that caused by Covid-19 can be expected to have disruptive effects not just in terms of the number of people in employment but also in terms of changes in employment. I can provide the Deputy with the details of those former PUP recipients in County Wicklow.