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10,000 jobs lost in a week in Northern Ireland as result of the coronavirus crisis


The Beannchor Group was among the first to announce losses, cutting 800 jobs across its entire portfolio

The Beannchor Group was among the first to announce losses, cutting 800 jobs across its entire portfolio

The Beannchor Group was among the first to announce losses, cutting 800 jobs across its entire portfolio

A Finance expert has said that the number of jobs lost here as a result of coronavirus amounts to one quarter of the entire total of posts lost during the recession - but fresh support from the Government could curb further losses.

In the past week, it has been estimated that up to 10,000 jobs have been lost in Northern Ireland as the economic impact of the coronavirus escalates.

Most of those jobs have been in the hospitality sector.

"To put this into context, Northern Ireland lost just over 40,000 jobs over the course of the financial crisis from 2008 to 2012," said Paul MacFlynn, co-director of Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).

His reference is chilling, given we are only one week into reaction strategies to curb the spread of the virus, but it is hoped that Boris Johnson's request that all pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and cinemas close is softened by a wage package to cover 80% of salaries of workers impacted by the pandemic.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that local job centres took 3,000 calls on Thursday related to job losses alone.

Last night Galgorm Resort and Spa became the latest business to announce it would be closing. Managing Director Colin Johnston said it was with "incredible sadness" they had decided to close from Saturday. Mr Johnston stated there would be no job losses.

Meanwhile in an emotional post Belfast hairdresser Paul Stafford said Saturday would also be their last trading day at Stafford Hair.

Announcing they would be closing for the "forseeable future" he said, "emotionally and physically this week has been the worst we've ever had in our 25-year salon business life."

Hospitality, so far, has been the worst hit sector, with one of the largest hospitality firms, Beannchor Group, among the first to announce losses, cutting 800 jobs across its entire portfolio, including the Dirty Onion, Yard Bird, The National, sixty6, Bullitt Belfast, The Ulster Sports Club and the Park Avenue Hotel with immediate effect.

Managing director Bill Wolsey said the crisis was the worst he had experienced in his 43 years in business. Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said Mr Wolsey's announcement marked the beginning of a "tsunami of job losses" for the industry.

News that 180 jobs were lost at Clover Group, which owns Jailhouse in Belfast, followed and quickly after the Kane Group, which owns the Spaniard, Muriels, Pablos, Panama, the Chester and Jeggy Nettle followed suit, laying off 90 staff.

Yesterday Co Down catering firm Yellow Door said it would temporarily lay off 29 workers.

Elsewhere in hospitality, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation chief executive Janice Gault said she estimated that 20% of hotels are fully closed, with others offering reduced services.

In retail, sportswear firm O'Neills announced it is temporarily laying off up to 750 staff. It said it would not reopen until at least May 5. And bookmaker Sean Graham said it would temporarily close all 30 of its shops here, where 150 people are employed.

Meanwhile, cruise ship outfitter MJM Group of Newry said all but one of its orders had been postponed last week, putting 300 of 500 jobs at the company under the axe.

Mr MacFlynn believes the scale of job losses here over the next few weeks could be greater than that experienced after the recession.

He added: "The crucial difference is that we know why this is happening, and we know how to reverse it. What we need to do is limit the job loss to first round impacts. That is, we need to know that the jobs lost are directly related to the emergency measures that have been enacted. If we start to see job losses indirectly related to the these measures, that is far more troubling and will take much longer to put right."

He anticipates hospitality and non-food retail jobs to be hit hardest because of "the absence of economic activity".

"I think non-food manufacturing is going to be hit very hard," he added. "Worryingly, I think the bulk of these job losses will hit later as manufacturing firms tend to have long production cycles. As we know, the airline industry is going to take a massive knock and the manufacturing firms that feed into that industry will feel the impact of that."

Mr MacFlynn said with support from the Government and communication, many of the latter losses could be temporary.

"A lot of these jobs should be recoverable as economic activity returns to normal."

A spokesperson at the Department for Communities said it was doing all it can to "ensure that the most vulnerable people get access to support".

Belfast Telegraph