Registered unemployment tops 50,000

Unemployment Insurance Office (Töötukassa) branch in Pärnu.
Unemployment Insurance Office (Töötukassa) branch in Pärnu. Source: ERR

Registered unemployment exceeded 50,000 at the end of last week, on the same day that the government's coronavirus emergency situation expired.

As of Sunday, May 17, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) reported 50,137 people were registered as unemployed, giving a total registered unemployment rate of 7.7 percent.

This represents a rise of 1 percent over the week of May 11-17 or an increase of 647 people.

Unemployment already stood at just under 7 percent of the workforce a month ago. February's unemployment rate, before the declaration of the state of emergency on March 12, stood at 5.7 percent.

Forty-three percent of those currently registered as unemployed - 21,781 people - have become unemployed since the emergency situation started on March 17, with Harju County and Hiiumaa seeing the greatest increase, and Ida-Viru County retaining the highest overall rate.

Last week, nine companies, primarily in the manufacturing sector, filed a collective redundancy notice which will lead to 256 people losing their jobs.

Four notifications were related to Miroslaw Pienkowski, a German firm based in Narva, whose companies specialize in the manufacture of titanium medical products. 

According to the data submitted to the fund, these four companies will lay off a total of 157 employees.

As of Monday, May 18, a total of 121,487 employees at 15,489 organizations have been granted income support from the state. Of these, 94,343 people have received support for one month, and 27,284 people for two months.

The government unveiled the employee wage support scheme in early April. Under the scheme, companies directly affected by the emergency situation can claim up to 70 percent of an employee's wage, up to a maximum of €1,000 per month, for a maximum of two months.

In recent weeks, new applications to the scheme have reportedly slowed, with most of April's wages paid out already.

For companies who signed up to the scheme early on, their two months will be up in early June, meaning more redundancies are possible. However, last week the Unemployment Insurance Fund said it supported the extension of the scheme and Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said it could potentially be extended until July. A decision on the scheme's extension has not yet been finalized.

The Scandinavian-owned Swedbank recently predicted unemployment could double to 100,000 by the fall, depending on the further fallout from the pandemic and the likelihood of a second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last month, CEO of the Unemployment Insurance Fund Meelis Paavel also predicted unemployment could double to approximately 90,000 people by the end of the summer. 


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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