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The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today published data in respect of the Live Register showing a combined total of 513,350 for those on the Live Register and those in receipt of COVID-19 Related Payments.  While over half of these people are in receipt of the COVID-19 payments, there is a significant rise in those on the Live Register (and not in receipt of a COVID-19 Related Payment) for less than one year.  This highlights the need to provide Decent Work as a key tenet of any new Social Contract and the need to recognise that the term "work" is not synonymous with a job.

This week, the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) published its report on Addressing Employment Vulnerability as part of a Just Transition in Ireland.  With the loss of an estimated 350,000 jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the impact, social and economic, of job precarity.  This report, drafted in response to the need to transition to a fundamentally new economic future associated with the challenges of climate change and digital automation, is also instructive as we face a new reality post-coronavirus.  When this crisis passes we will need to develop a new social contract and engage in social dialogue to allow all stakeholders to have a say in shaping that contract.

Ireland and much of the rest of the world is facing into a major economic recession as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The circumstances and causes of this recession are very different from those that caused the recession in 2008/2009, but there are still lessons that can and should be learned. One of those lessons relates to government’s fiscal response. Faced with a recession that will exceed any in living memory, government must act on a scale that exceeds anything implemented during the financial crisis of a decade ago.

Ireland's employment performance since the onset of the economic recovery has varied greatly by region. Unsurprisingly, Dublin is the best performer. Other regions fare less well, including the Mid-West (Clare, Tipperary and Limerick). The region has an unemployment rate above the national average, has seen a fall in overall jobs numbers in the last 2 years, and has also seen significant falls in labour force numbers and in participation levels.

Ireland's increased employment and low unemployment rates are occurring in the context of a notably lower participation rate compared to the previous employment peak. Here, we look at some of the participation trends behind the headline numbers.

Ireland's low unemployment rates and impressive jobs creation numbers are being recorded in the context of a far lower participation rate than Ireland has had in the recent past. In addition we face challenges in relation to precarious work and low paid employment.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Work for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Family poverty remains one of the largest determinants of educational outcomes in Ireland.  The benefits of investing in education, to the individual, to the economy and to society, far outweigh any initial outlay of resources.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Education for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

What are the ten trends shaping the future of work?  How are these trends transforming what people do for a living; how they do it; what skills they need; where they perform their work; how work relations are structured; and how work is organised, distributed and rewarded?

Technological change is coming whether we like it or not.  The question is are we doing enough to prepare for it?  More specifically are we doing enough to support those workers who will be most impacted by the changes that are on the horizon?

Behind the headline jobs numbers, trends in Ireland's labour force participation tell some interesting stories.