A new report says the retail jobs data is worse than first thought and the government is “failing to keep its promise” to protect jobs in the wake of the Brexit vote.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says it is now “confident” the economy will contract by 0.2% in the year to December 2021.
It is the first time it has recorded a contraction in the first three months of a year since the recession of 2008-09.
The report also says there are now more retail vacancies than retail job opportunities, as companies have less incentive to open new stores.
The economy is set to contract by an average of 1.7% this year and by 2.6% in 2021, the IFS says.
It also forecasts a 2.4% drop in the GDP by the end of the year, as businesses seek to balance the books.
It predicts a “rebound from the global recession” will be more limited than the government has previously projected.
The government has said it will provide up to £10bn to businesses to help them cope with the loss of jobs.
It has also pledged to give companies a guarantee of up to 30 days’ unemployment benefits for anyone who has been unemployed for six months or more.
The IFS report said the latest figures showed “a substantial decline” in the number of retail jobs in Ireland.
It said the government “did not keep its promises” to help workers recover from the Brexit decision, and said its policy was to “encourage job creation and job-creation incentives”.