Norway’s unemployment soars to record 14.7% of work force

Norway’s rate of unemployment rose sixfold in March to 14.7%, the Labour and Welfare Agency (NAV) said on Friday, the highest level on record as the economy ground to a halt amid efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

As many as 10.7% were fully unemployed, while the remaining 3% were registered as partially unemployed, NAV added.

The Norwegian government three weeks ago announced emergency shutdowns of many public and private institutions, including schools and kindergartens, sending the economy into a tailspin and triggering hundreds of thousands of layoffs.

Although many job cuts were classified as temporary, such as restaurants and airlines expecting to bring back employees when restrictions are eventually lifted, economists have warned that many firms may in fact struggle to recover.

A major oil and gas producer, Norway is also suffering from a crash in the price of crude, its main export, and this industry has also announced layoffs.

“We’ve seen a drastic deterioration in the labour market,” NAV chief Sigrun Vaageng said in a statement.

“While some groups are more affected than others, we’re seeing an impact across all sectors and as a result the whole Norwegian economy is hard hit,” she added.