Unemployment among foreign citizens in Iceland has decreased by one-third over the past two months, RÚV reports. Around 3,300 from the demographic have left the unemployment register so far this year. Foreign residents of Iceland have had higher rates of unemployment than Icelandic nationals throughout the pandemic and have been overrepresented on the unemployment register in recent years.
Unemployment among foreign nationals rose rapidly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. At the beginning of 2021, almost 9,000 immigrants were out of work and the number had more than doubled over the past 12 months. In June, however, that number had dropped to 5,700, according to figures from the Directorate of Labour.
Gundega Jaunlinina, chairperson of the Youth Association in the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), says it is often more difficult for unemployed foreigners to find work than for Icelanders. “Because people may not be as active in their job search and don’t know exactly where they should look and employers are unfortunately less likely to hire foreign workers,” she stated.
While Iceland’s tourism industry has been bouncing back in recent months and hundreds have been hired at workplaces like Keflavík Airport, hotels, and tour companies, Gundega says some foreign workers have also found work abroad, either in their country of origin or somewhere else.