Based on monthly unadjusted measures from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey the number of active individuals from the age of 16-74 on the labour market was estimated to be 195,000 (±6,300). That is equivalent to an activity rate of 75.8% (±2.4%). Of active individuals, it was estimated that around 181,200 (±4,600) were employed, and 13,700 (±2,800) unemployed and looking for a job.

The rate of employed indiviuals of the population was estimated to be 70.5% (±2.5) while the unadjusted unemployment rate was estimated to be 7.0% (±1.4%). Moreover, the number of unadjusted hours worked has never been lower, or 34.8 hours, since the start of the continuous Labour Force Survey in Iceland in 2003. The same is observed with the unadjusted activity rate and the unadjusted rate of employment, which have never been lower since 2003.

Taken together, the effect of Covid-19 on the Icelandic Labour Market in April is clearly observed in the unadjusted numbers. The unadjusted estimates indicated that the number of inactive people increased in April, along with unemployment rate, while hours worked decreased. Comparing the current unadjusted measure of unemployment to April 2019 shows that the unemployment rate has increased by 3 precentage points between years. The employment rate has decreased by 8.8 precentage points along with the activity rate decreasing by 6.8 precentage points.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people in April was around 11,300, or 5.3% of the labour force. Seasonally adjusted activity rate was 75.4% while the seasonally adjusted employment rate was 70.2%. The seasonally adjusted activity rate has decreased by 5.1 precentage points over the last 6 months while the seasonally adjusted employment rate decreased by 7.2 precentage points.

The seasonally adjusted trend of the rate of unemployment for the last six months increased from 3.7% in November to 4.1% in April. Concurrently, the seasonally adjusted trend of employment rate decreased by 0.7 precentage points and the activity rate by 0.6 precentage points.

It is proper to note that the seasonally adjusted estimates may be somewhat inaccurate as a result of unprecedented circumstances in the Icelandic labour market in the spring of 2020. The seasonally adjusted estimates assume general seasonal changes in the Icelandic labour market, for example by assuming that typically the number of unemployed people increase during springtime due to students looking for summerjobs. It is evident that in the spring of 2020 such adjustments are insufficient because of the effect of unexpected and extraordinary events have had on people’s labour market status. Thus, it is important to focus on the unadjusted measures when estimating short term effects.

All numbers are weighted by age and gender and rounded to the nearest hundred.

Table 1. Labour market in April unadjusted measures
CI CI CI
  2018 (±95%) 2019 (±95%) 2020 (±95%)
Total 1674 years
Activity rate 82.1 2.5 82.6 2.4 75.8 2.4
Employment rate 78.3 2.7 79.3 2.6 70.5 2.5
Unemployment rat 4.6 1.3 4.0 1.1 7.0 1.4
Hours of work 39.7 1.2 37.4 1.3 34.8 1.1
Labour force 202,100 6,200 212,100 6,200 195,000 6,300
Employed 192,700 5,200 203,500 5,400 181,200 4,600
Unemployed 9,400 2,700 8,600 2,400 13,700 2,800
Inactive 44,100 5,900 44,700 6,200 62,200 6,200
Est. population 246,200 256,700 257,200
Table 2. Labour market last 6 months seasonal adjustment
 Nov-19Dec-19Jan-20Feb-20Mar-20Apr-20
Total 1674 years
Activity rate 80.5 80.7 81.0 80.4 79.0 75.4
Employment rate 77.4 77.6 78.0 77.5 76.9 70.2
Unemployment rate 4.1 3.9 3.4 5.0 3.3 5.3
Hours of work 40.3 39.9 39.6 39.4 38.4 37.3
Labour force 205,800 209,100 208,700 208,500 208,300 195,400
Employed 198,200 202,200 202,700 199,600 202,200 183,200
Unemployed 7,100 7,300 7,000 10,300 5,900 11,300
Inactive 52,600 49,700 50,400 51,000 53,300 61,700
Est. population 258,400 258,900 259,100 259,600 261,800 258,500
Table 3. Labour market last 6 months seasonal adjustment trend
 Nov-19Dec-19Jan-20Feb-20Mar-20Apr-20
Total 1674 years
Activity rate 80.7 80.7 80.9 81.1 81.1 80.1
Employment rate 77.7 77.6 77.9 77.6 77.6 77.0
Unemployment rate 3.7 3.8 3.7 4.0 4.0 4.1
Hours of work 40.2 40.1 40.0 39.8 39.8 37.5
Labour force 208,600 208,900 209,400 209,300 209,300 206,900
Employed 201,100 201,200 202,600 201,000 201,000 198,500
Unemployed 7,300 7,200 7,300 8,100 8,100 8,500
Inactive 49,700 49,800 49,700 50,300 50,300 56,400
Est. population 258,400 258,900 259,200 259,600 259,600 260,600

About the data
The Labour Force Survey for April 2020 covers 5 weeks, from March 30th 2020 through May 3rd 2020. The sample consisted of 1,896 individuals aged 16-74 years domiciled in Iceland. When those who were domiciled abroad or deceased had been excluded the net sample included 1,852 individuals. A total of usable answers were obtained from 1,215 individuals, which corresponds to 65.6% response rate.

Statistics