May 11, 2021
ESRI data shows we cannot return to business as usual after the pandemic – Louise O’Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said an ESRI report on intergenerational inequality, which outlined how the pandemic has hit younger workers hardest, should be a wake up call to government and policy makers that we cannot return to business as usual after pandemic.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“This Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report comes hot on the heels of data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical division, all of which shows the scale of the Covid crisis on young people. Reports from all three organisations have outlined that the pandemic has hit younger workers hardest.

“The latest research from the ESRI outlined that there were 112,000 fewer 15-34 year olds in paid work in the final quarter of 2020 than a year earlier. Proportionally, employment was 14 per cent below its pre-pandemic level for those age 15-34.

“Part of the reason for the disproportionate impact of job losses on young workers is they were more likely to be employed in the retail, hospitality, and arts and leisure sectors, those most affected by the Covid crisis and associated public health measures.

“Nevertheless, the scale of employment in these sectors is also cause for concern, given the overrepresentation of young adults employed in this sector – almost 40 per cent of workers born between 1985 and 1994 were working in these sectors.

“The data also reinforced one of the greatest threats to our society and economy – the scale of intergenerational inequality which currently exists. Young people are locked out of housing and on top of this their earnings have also stagnated. Indeed, young workers in their early 20s have been earning less in the 2010s than they did in the 1990s or 2000s (adjusted for inflation).

“The fact of the matter is our economy has never worked for everyone, and it has especially failed young people. Successive Governments have rewarded wealth over work and multinational corporations over working families, and the pandemic has exposed this.

“Post-Covid19, we cannot go back to ‘business as usual’ and have a reconstitution of the economy as it was, which was exactly what was done after the financial crisis – we must build back better.

“The State is a critical player in the economy, in economic development, and in economic direction; and as we exist this crisis the government must play their part in delivering building a more robust, progressive economy – a high wage, high productivity, and high growth economy that delivers for young people, for workers and for society.”

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