The number of people receiving special unemployment benefit in the event of a pandemic has fallen to its lowest level since March 2020, the month it was introduced, according to new official figures.
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said just over 202,000 people would receive the payment this week.
She said more than 8,800 people had closed their pandemic unemployment claims in the past seven days as they returned to work.
The 202,152 people who still receive the payment are in addition to the 175,281 people who were on the Live Register at the end of June.
The Welfare Ministry said there was a decrease of 9,695 people in the number of people receiving payment this week compared to last week. He said the biggest reduction, out of more than 3,000 beneficiaries, was in the accommodation and food services sector.
“The total number of people receiving pandemic unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since the start of March 2020,” said Ms Humphreys.
At its peak, nearly 600,000 people received payment in April / May of last year.
“As we enter August, I anticipate further declines in overall numbers – in part due to the expected reopening of domestic hospitality,” the minister said.
The Ministry of Social Protection is asking payment recipients to confirm their continued eligibility for the scheme by Tuesday, July 27.
“Failure to confirm continued eligibility may result in the cessation of pandemic unemployment payment,” he said.
The ministry said the age cohort with the biggest drop in payments was the under-25 age group, with 42,308 recipients now up from 45,881 last week.
Dublin continues to be the county with the highest number of beneficiaries with 75,178, followed by Cork (17,970) and Galway (10,706).
The sector with the largest number of special payments remains accommodation and food services (47,640), followed by wholesale and retail trade (30,876) and administrative and support services (22,393). .