DUBLIN (Alliance News) - Ireland's economy could recoverÂ "quite strongly" from pandemic-related curbsÂ in 2021, but employmentÂ is unlikely to bounce back for at least two years, according to the state-fundedÂ Economic & Social Research Institute.
In a report published on Thursday, the ESRI cutÂ its earlier 2021 gross domestic product growth forecast fromÂ 5.2% to 4.4%, citing theÂ likely impact of Ireland's ongoing third lockdown, which was imposed in late December.
The ESRI said theÂ revised projectionÂ assumesÂ "a gradual easing of restrictions" from next month and that Covid-19 jabsÂ "will facilitate the broad relaxation of public health restrictions in the second half of 2021".
Ireland's economyÂ grew byÂ 3.4% in 2020 on the back of record exports in multinational-heavy sectorsÂ that have thrived during the pandemic.
The central bank's Mark Cassidy told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that GDP growth last year was "largely accounted for by a surge in pharmaceutical exports and continued strength in the IT sector."
Sectors geared towards the small domestic market lagged, however, with unemployment hitting around 25% in early 2020 afterÂ "non-essential" businesses such as restaurants, pubs and manyÂ shops were forced to close again.
The ESRI's Kieran McQuinn warned on Thursday thatÂ "unemployment is unlikely to fall back to its pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest."
The Licensed Vintners Association, which represents pub owners, told parliamentarians on Tuesday that Irish businesses have facedÂ "the longest, most severe lockdown in Europe" and said the government should giveÂ "clarification on reopening scenarios".
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