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Around 433,100 people were registered as unemployed job seekers in Finland in April, representing an increase of 124,000 from the previous month and an increase of 203,400 from the previous year. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

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THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE could surge to a new record during the coronavirus-disrupted first half of 2020, predicts General Unemployment Fund (YTK).

YTK on Wednesday revealed that it has already paid more than 56 million euros in unemployment benefits for April – 12 million euros more than one year earlier – despite the fact that some of the applications received last month have yet been processed.

It predicted based on the number of benefit applications that the unemployment rate among its membership may surge to over 15 per cent, for the first time ever.

The unemployment rate among its members stood at 8.4 per cent in March 2020 and 7.9 per cent in March 2019. The corresponding national rates stood at 7.3 and 7.0 per cent, according to Statistics Finland.

YTK reported that the number of so-called first applications increased by nearly 30,000 year-on-year to 45,000 between January and April. Most of the applications were received last month, with the monthly total growing tenfold from the previous year to over 28,500.

Although the number of first applications is set to fall short of the levels of April, the total number of applications is expected to continue its growth in May. YTK admitted that the influx of applications has already seen it exceed the statutory maximum processing time of 30 days for first applications.

“We are working full steam in this exceptional situation and will notify applicants of any delays personally. Our current estimate suggests that the processing time for some first applications will be 45–50 days. Further applications containing no changes are still processed automatically on the day of arrival,” stated Ilona Kangas, the head of customers and communication at YTK.

YTK has over 440,000 members, accounting for 20 per cent of wage earners in Finland.

TE Offices, similarly, saw the number of registered job seekers rise dramatically – by around 124,000 from the previous month and 203,400 from the previous year to 433,100 in early April, according to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

The increase in the number of unemployed job seekers, it said, is attributable to the restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy reported that the number of temporarily laid off people stood at 184,000 at the end of last month, representing a jump of 166,000 from the previous year.

The ranks of the long-term unemployed – that is, people who have been without a job for at least 12 consecutive months – grew by 4,300 to 67,400. The number of over 50-year-old job seekers rose by more than 50 per cent to 141,500 and that of under 25-year-old job seekers by over 100 per cent to 56,300.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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