According to seasonally adjusted figures from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey, 17,700 individuals were unemployed in April 2021, or 8.6% of the labour force. The seasonally adjusted activity rate was 78.1% and the seasonally adjusted employment rate 71.3%. Compared with March 2021 the seasonally adjusted employment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points between months and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points. Over the last 6 months the trend of the activity rate increased by 0.3 percentage points and the trend of the unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percentage points.
Based on unadjusted measures, the number of 16-74 year olds active on the labour market was estimated to be 206,200 (±7,500) in April 2021, which is equivalent to an activity rate of 78.4% (±2.8). Of active individuals, the number of employed persons was estimated to be 184,000 (±5,400) and 22,200 (±4,800) were estimated to be unemployed and looking for a job. The employment rate was estimated to be 69.9% (±3.0) and the unemployment rate 10.8% (±2.4). Comparison with April 2020 shows a decrease of 12,500 individuals outside of the labour force between years. The number of unemployed inviduals increased by 6,900 between years, or by 2.8 percentage points. The activity rate increased by 5.0 percentage points and the employment rate by 2.4 percentage points between years.
Young individuals possibly sooner than usual looking for a summer job
It is estimated that 36.6% of individuals aged 16-24 years were unemployed and looking for a job in April 2021. The rate is the second highest that has been measured in the Icelandic Labour Force Survey from the year of 2003 but the rate was higher in May 2010 when it was 37.1%. The unemployment rate of young individuals is 9.8 percentage points higher than in April 2020. The unemployment rate of young individuals is always highest in May when students start seeking summer jobs as can be seen in figure 1, but the rate is rather high for April. This can possibly be explained to some degree by young individuals having started looking for summerjobs earlier than usual.
Labour market slack
Considerable labour market slack is still seen on the Icelandic labour market in April 2021 like in the previous months. Results from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey indicate that around 39,400 individuals had an unmet need for employment which is equivalent to 18.3% of the labour force and potential labour force. Of those individuals, 56.4% were unemployed, 6.9% ready to work but not looking for a job, 15.3% were looking but not ready to work and 21.5% were employed but willing to work more. Comparison with the previous year shows similar labour market slack in April 2021 and April 2020. The trend of the labour market slack has been stable over the last three months.
About the data
The Labour Force Survey for April 2021 covers four weeks, from 5 April through 2 May 2021. The sample consisted of 1,525 individuals, 16-74 years old and domiciled in Iceland. When those who were domiciled abroad or deceased had been excluded, the net sample consisted of 1,503 individuals. Usable answers were obtained from 978 individuals which corresponds to a 65.1% response rate.
As has been mentioned earlier, new working hour measures were added to the Icelandic Labour Force Survey in January 2021. The statistics have now been updated and results from both working hour measures can be found on the Statistics Iceland website. The new measures can be found on the website under the name “Actual hours worked” and the old time-series under the name “Actual hours worked – old time-series”. Until January 2021 the measure of actual hours worked referred to the total working hours of respondents in full- and part-time jobs in the reference week. The new measure refers to the total working hours of respondents in full- and part-time jobs in the reference week, apart from main meal breaks and absence due to personal errands.