Unemployment rises nearly three percentage points on year to March end

Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) office in Tartu.
Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) office in Tartu. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Registered unemployment rose from 5.8 percent to 8.7 percent on year to the end of the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2021), particularly in more rural counties, which have been hit hard by the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic even if their reported coronavirus rates are not as high as other areas.

Women, too, have been hit more heavily then men in terms of job losses, ERR reports, with 52.2 percent of registered unemployed at the end of Q1 2021 being women compared with 47.8 percent men. At the same time in 2020, shortly after the coronavirus arrived in Estonia, the respective figures were 49.6 percent and 50.4 percent.

Estonia's second-largest island, Hiiumaa, one of the most sparsely-populated regions of the country, saw its unemployment double on year to the end of March 2021, though absolute figures remain low, and fewer than 300 people are registered unemployed on the island, population less than 10,000.

Similarly, Pärnu, Lääne and Rapla counties, along with Saaremaa, have seen significant rises in unemployment, in the region of 50 percent, on year to the end of March 2021.

The overall figure of registered unemployed nationwide stands at 56,900, compared with 38,000 at the end of March 2021.

Ida-Viru County, which has both been one of the hardest-hit regions by coronavirus rates and which faces significant challenges as its primary industry, oil shale mining and refining, continues to decline, maintains the highest unemployment rate in the land at 14.7 percent as of the end of March.

At the same time, the rise in unemployment on year stood at 20 percent at the end of March, meaning it has been less affected in terms of unemployment by the pandemic than other regions.

Three southern counties are next – Valga (10.8 percent), Põlva (10.3 percent) and Pärnu (10 percent), while Lääne County posted 9 percent registered unemployment.

Registered unemployed in Harju County, the most populous region of Estonia and including the capital, Tallinn, saw a near-doubling of registered unemployment too, from 14,600 to 26,900, March 31 2020 to March 31 2021.

Youth unemployment has also grown, from 11.1 percent of the total figure a year ago, to 12.6 percent at the end of Q1 2021.

The figures, compiled by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa), concern registered unemployment and not either non-registered joblessness, or under-employment.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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