The Covid-adjusted rate of unemployment rose to 25% in January, up from 19.4% in December, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Restrictions, including the closure of shops and restaurants and a ban on travel and home visits, were dropped for most of December but reimposed late in the month after a surge in infections.
The CSO said that the traditional measure of unemployment remained unchanged at 5.8% last month.
The rate of unemployment was 15.7% amongst 15-24 year olds and 4.6% among 25-74 year olds.
The Covid-adjusted rate, which includes those receiving the PUP, was 56.4% among 15-24 year olds and 21.4% for 25-74 year olds.
The CSO also cited additional information from the Department of Social Protection which shows that “at least” 8% of those receiving the PUP are in full time education.
This breaks down further into “at least” 33% for those under 25 and just 1.2% of those over 25.
Those in full time education would not normally be eligible for unemployment assistance or benefit.
The CSO cautions that those in full time education who are in receipt of the PUP would therefore not normally be counted as “unemployed”.
Jack Kennedy, economist at global job site Indeed, said today’s “startling” figures show the return to national lockdown has applied the brakes to the economy once more.
On a macro level, the economist said it will be interesting to see how many of the changes Covid has brought are here to stay.
“We’ve seen significant behavioural change affect industries like retail, with high street shops suffering from lack of footfall and ultimately closing,” he said.
“It’s possible we will see the job profile in this industry transform as it moves from bricks and mortar to more online selling. We already saw a rise in warehouse and delivery jobs last year, it now looks like this could be less of a temporary trend and more of a cultural shift,” he added.
Mr Kennedy also said that Brexit may bring lasting change to the shape of the labour market.
“Industries highly sensitive to supply chain issues will likely continue to transform and adapt in order to circumvent these challenges, bringing new opportunities for the labour market,” he added.