The first quarter of 2020 was unusual in many ways for the Icelandic labour force. The labour market was characterized by restrictions on work due to strikes and the Covid-19 assembly ban in the middle of March. The impact of these factors is to some extent evident in labour force measurements. See also: Labour Force Survey in March.

Unemployment 3.6%
The average number of persons in the labour force was 206,900 in the 1st quarter of 2020 according to the Icelandic Labour Force Survey, or 79.1% of the population. Of these, 7,500 persons were unemployed, or 3.6%. At the same time, about 2,900 jobs were available in the Icelandic labour market, according to Statistics Iceland’s job vacancy survey, or about 1.3% of jobs, according to previously published figures. In comparison, 6,200 persons were unemployed in 1st quarter of 2019 which means that unemployment has risen by 0.6 percentage points over the period.

Long term unemployment increases
Of those unemployed in the 1st quarter of 2020, around 3,400 persons were unemployed for two months or less, or 45.6% of all who are unemployed. Comparison between years shows around 4,700 unemployed for two months or less, or 76.3%, in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Long-term unemployment refers to those who have been unemployed for 12 months or more. In the 1st quarter of 2020, 1,800 persons were long-term unemployed or 23.6% of the total unemployed. In the 1st quarter of 2019 long-term unemployed persons were 300 or 5.5% of the total unemployed.

The employment rate decreases
The number of employed persons in the 1st quarter 2019 was 199,400, or 76.3% of the population. This is a slight decrease from the same quarter in 2019 when the number of employed persons was 199,600 while the employment rate decreased by 2.1 percentage points for the same period. Number of full time employed decreased by 800 from the previous year and of employed persons in the 1st quarter of 2020, 74.9% were full time which is a decrease by 0.3 percentage points from the 1st quarter of 2019.

Inactive people
About 54,600 persons were considered inactive in the 1st quarter of 2020. That is an increase by 5,700 persons, or 1.7 percentage points, from the year before. The estimated population 16 to 74 years increased by 2.8% at the same time, from 254,600 persons to 261,500.

More people work from home
In the 1st quarter of 2019, a total of 39.0% of employees aged 25-64 years worked remotely from home in their main job. Thereof, 5.1% were employees who usually worked from home while 33.3% sometimes worked from home. This is an increase from the year before when 31.7% of employees worked remotely from home in their main job, 4.3% usually worked from home and 27.4% sometimes. Working remotely from home does not include domestic work or other jobs unrelated to employees’ main job. Most likely, restrictions on work due to strikes and Covid-19 were the main factors in this increase.

Those who work from home did more hours
Actual working hours for employees 25 to 64 years old in the 1st quarter of 2020 were 39.5 on average per week, 41.4 hours for employees who worked from home and 38.1 hours for those who never worked from home. Compared to the 1st quarter of 2019, actual hours for employees 24 to 64 years old were on average 40.9 hours per week, 42.9 hours for employees who worked from home and 39.7 hours for those who never worked from home.

In the 1st quarter of 2020, employees worked 9.8 hours on average remotely from home or 23.8% of actual hours. In comparison, employees worked 6.7 hours from home or 15.9% of actual hours in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Statistics