September Sees Slight Uptick in Unemployment Rate

building construction cranes Garðabær

Iceland’s unemployment rate rose from 2.9% in August to 3% in September, according to a new report from the Directorate of Labour. Foreign citizens compose 51% of the unemployed population.

Slight increase from August

In a recent report by the Directorate of Labour, Iceland’s unemployment rate for September was recorded at 3%. This marks an increase from 2.9% in August but is consistent with the figures from May of the same year. For comparison, the rate was slightly higher at 3.2% in September of 2022. The Directorate anticipates that the unemployment rate for October will hover between 2.9% and 3.2%.

The report further details that an average of 5,734 individuals were registered as unemployed in September, comprising 3,175 men and 2,559 women. By the month’s end, the total number of unemployed individuals rose to 6,035.

Unemployment rate highest in Southern Peninsula

Last month, Suðurnes, located on the southernmost side of the Reykjanes peninsula, recorded the highest unemployment rate at 4.2%. This marked an increase from 3.9% in August. Conversely, the Northwestern region of Iceland had the lowest unemployment rate at 0.6%. East Iceland reported an unemployment rate of 1.3%, while West Iceland’s rate stood at 1.7%. In the capital region, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.3%, unchanged from the previous month.

Over 1,000 out of work for more than a year

As noted by, by the end of September 2023, 1,159 individuals had been unemployed for over 12 months. This figure represents a decrease of 67 from August. For context, in September 2022, the count stood at 2,046, indicating a year-over-year reduction of 887. Additionally, 1,469 individuals had been unemployed for a duration of 6-12 months in September 2023, a slight drop from 1,566 in September 2022.

The report highlights that the tourism sector experienced the most pronounced increase in unemployment compared to the previous month.

Foreign citizens overrepresented

The report also finds that there were 3,056 foreign citizens who were unemployed at the end of September, which is an increase of 160 from August. The proportion of foreign nationals on the unemployment register was about 51% by the end of September.

An assistant professor of economics at Reykjavík University recently maintained that the overrepresentation of foreign citizens in unemployment figures suggested that foreign citizens in Iceland faced additional obstacles when it came to finding work.

Southern Peninsula’s High Cancer Rate Under Investigation


The Icelandic Cancer Society has begun investigating whether chlorine-releasing compounds used at the former Naval Station in Keflavík may explain a high incidence of cancer in the southern peninsula, RÚV reports. The Society will also investigate the role of lifestyle-related risk factors.

Nowhere in the country …

Last year, a bipartisan resolution was presented at Parliament empowering the Minister of Health to commission the Icelandic Cancer Society to investigate the high incidence of cancer in Iceland’s southern peninsula.

Clamours for such an investigation had been heard throughout the years – given that nowhere in the country is the incidence of cancer higher than in the southern peninsula: between 2009 and 2018, the incidence was 595 for every 100,000 male residents and 483 for every 100,000 female residents (compared to 539 for men and 478 for women in the capital region).

Results expected at the end of the year

This week, the Icelandic Cancer Society announced that it had begun its investigation, focusing primarily on whether chlorine-releasing compounds employed at the former Naval Station in Keflavík could explain the high incidence of cancer in the region. Other risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol use and obesity, will also be reviewed.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Laufey Tryggvadóttir, Director of the Icelandic Cancer Registry at the Icelandic Cancer Society, stated that the authorities possessed “good data” on pollution at the former Naval Station in Keflavík.

“Chlorine-releasing compounds, cleaning materials, used to clean American fighter jets, for example, leaked into water holes in the southern peninsula. The use of these materials was discontinued in 1991. Other variables will also be explored,” Laufey stated, referring to what degree lifestyle-related risk factors, smoking, alcohol use, and maybe obesity, could account for high cancer rates.

The research will be conducted in collaboration with municipal authorities in the southern peninsula, and the aim is to complete the investigation by the end of the year. “We expect to be able to determine how many cases were caused by pollution from the former Naval Station,” Laufey stated.