New unemployment numbers slowing after end of emergency situation

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

During the emergency situation in Estonia, the unemployment rate increased from 5.7 to 7.7 percent by its conclusion. By now, the unemployment rate has reached 7.8 percent, however the increase in the number of registered unemployed has slowed.

At the beginning of the emergency situation in mid-March, a total of approximately 36,814 people were registered as unemployed in Estonia; on the final day of the emergency situation in mid-May, that figure stood at 50,135. "The number of unemployed currently stands at 50,500, and the unemployment rate stands at 7.8 percent," Katrin Liivamets, head of the Jobseekers' and Employers' Services Department at the Unemployment Insurance Fund, told ERR.

According to Liivamets, an average of 2,368 new people registered as unemployed each week of the emergency situation, but in its final weeks, the increase slowed. This week, 1,400 new people registered as unemployed.

"While it may have seemed sometimes during this emergency situation that unemployment just continues to rise and nobody is getting hired, in reality, a total of 8,600 of our clients have begun work during the emergency situation," she highlighted. "This means that each week, just under 700 people unregistered as unemployed, three quarters of whom went back to work and the rest of whom either retired or unregistered as unemployed for some other reason."

According to the official, many of these people have been hired for positions offered through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which is currently mediating more than 4,000 job opportunities.

"The number of jobs being offered through us has likewise increased in recent weeks; while we maybe had some 2,500-2,700 active job postings per day during the most critical weeks of the emergency situation, by now there are indeed more than 4,000," she said.

While there are still plenty of job offers in the agricultural sector, the share thereof in overall job offers has declined, currently accounting for less than a quarter of all current job offers.

"The majority of job offers in the agricultural sector are unskilled job offers," Liivamets said. In cooperation with agricultural businesses, however, the Unemployment Insurance Fund is also seeking skilled labor.

Collective layoffs were more common toward the beginning of the emergency situation. This week, in contrast, has only seen one notice of collective layoffs filed.

Thus far this month, notices have been filed regarding approximately 900 employees, half of whom work in hospitality, followed by manufacturing.

Regarding employees with a reduced capacity for work, Liivamets said that initial fears have proven premature.

"While we had just under 11,000 people with a reduced capacity for work registered as unemployed at the beginning of the emergency situation, by the end of the emergency situation, this number has increased, but not nearly as much as one may think," she said. As of the end of the emergency situation, 11,866 people with a reduced capacity for work were registered as unemployed.

"While it was initially said in the media that people with health issues would be the hardest hit, this shows us that it was jobs, not people, that were laid off," she added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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