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Reykjavik from above
Photo: Golli.

Unemployment 9.2% in Iceland in March

More than 25,000 Icelandic citizens have applied for unemployment assistance due to reduced employment, RÚV reports. This represents 76% of those applying for such benefits. Overall, unemployment in Iceland was at 9.2% at the end of March. These statistics were among the findings of a recent report published by the economics division of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ).

Around 8,000 of those applying for unemployment assistance due to reduced employment are foreign nationals. Polish citizens account for 3,330 of these. The percentage of foreign nationals applying for partial unemployment benefits is higher in Southwest Iceland, South Iceland, and East Iceland than it is in the country overall, where the percentage is around 25%. Foreign nationals in the aforementioned three areas of the country are primarily employed within the tourism sector.

Unemployment higher among foreign nationals

Unemployment among foreign nationals living in Iceland was at 13.9% at the end of March. The figure takes into account people who have applied for full unemployment benefits as well as those who have sought assistance due to reduced employment. While the unemployment rate is higher among foreign workers than it is in Iceland overall, unemployment has increased less dramatically for this demographic than it has for Icelandic citizens in the past few weeks. In February, 3,906 foreign nationals were unemployed in Iceland. This number increased by almost 25% to 4,856 at the end of March. By comparison, 5,860 Icelandic citizens were unemployed at the end of February and 9,365 were unemployed a month later. This is a nearly 60% increase. Unsurprisingly, the ASÍ report credits travel restrictions and other consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic with the steep increase in unemployment among Icelanders and foreign nationals alike.

The ASÍ report also concludes that the gender balance among those applying for unemployment reflects that of the labour market. At the end of March, around or 56% of those registered as unemployed were men (around 8,000); 44%, or 6,200, were women.

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