THERE are still 1,735 people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in Clare, with latest figures also showing that 3,783 people were signing on the live register in October.
The number receiving the PUP fell by almost 400 between October 19 and November 2, while it is way down from its peak in 2020 of almost 15,000.
On the live register side, the October figure increased by 73 on September.
The majority of people signing on in Clare (1,929) were attached to the Ennis Social Welfare office. The figure for Kilrush was 657, for Ennistymon it was 643, and for Tulla it was 554.
Of those signing on in Clare, 2,031 were male and 1,752 were female.
Despite more than 5,500 people getting unemployment supports, there are also labour shortages in a number of sectors.
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council PJ Ryan, a businessman himself, said that workers are in short supply.
“Definitely there’s a major problem for businesses trying to find staff at the minute. A lot of businesses had people from Eastern Europe employed and they seem to have gone home now and don’t seem anxious to come back.
“Then there are people who are still on the PUP. Unless they’re 100% sure that their employment is safe and that there will be no more lockdowns, they’re inclined to stay with the PUP for the time being and that’s creating a problem.”
The shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has been well documented and Councillor Ryan said that they are also in demand in this country now.
“There is definitely a big problem with drivers at the minute. There again, there were a lot of Eastern European drivers involved in transport in this country.
“They have moved out now too, which is creating a problem. Now there’s a bit of a draw from Ireland, in the UK they’re offering serious money. I’ve heard stories where drivers were being offered €1,700 a week. I don’t think that kind of money is sustainable here. In the UK the government is grant aiding companies to pay drivers extra money to keep them.”
He said that many students are currently reluctant to take up part time jobs that would put involve contact with the public, due to concerns about Covid, particularly with case numbers having been very high in recent weeks.
In the hospitality sector, he said it is hard for business owners to cope at the moment.
“A lot of businesses don’t know where they stand. their turnover at the minute is small. I’ve been in a couple of restaurants recently, they’ve only had one chef on and maybe three staff. All of a sudden, if they get a crowd in it creates a problem, because the amount of staff aren’t able to cater for the crowd.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.