By the end of 2021, the number of females in employment in Ireland had reached unprecedented levels. Despite a significant decline in employment with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, female employment grew by 93,000 in the two-year period from quarter 4 2019 and quarter 4 2021, or 9%, to reach 1.18 million. Participation rates in the labour force were higher than ever and the growth in activity far exceeded many European countries.
While many women were severely impacted by COVID-19 in terms of initial economic outcomes, the recovery in employment in recent quarters has far exceeded expectations. There has been significant concern internationally on the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on employment outcomes for females. Many studies have examined the impact of COVID-19 on women, including areas such as increased unpaid care responsibilities (with research conducted by the World Economic Forum, Deloitte and the ILO amongst others). The focus of this Bulletin, however, is on identifying some of the potential factors relating to the increase in employment and how the profile of female employment has changed over the period from quarter 4 2019 and quarter 4 2021. This includes an analysis of the changes by sector and occupation, along with a profile by age, gender, and educational attainment and the prevalence of females availing of home working.