Why has unemployment increased?

Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - The number of long-term unemployed in North Rhine-Westphalia has increased significantly in the Corona crisis. In April, a total of almost 338,000 people in the most populous federal state had been registered as unemployed for a year or more. That was almost 33 percent or a good 83,000 people more than a year earlier, as the regional directorate NRW of the Federal Employment Agency announced on Thursday. For comparison: The total number of unemployed rose in the pandemic in North Rhine-Westphalia "only" by 4.3 percent to 749 228.

"In 2014, for the last time, so many people in North Rhine-Westphalia were out of work for a long time," said the head of the regional directorate for North Rhine-Westphalia Torsten Withake. "The greater challenge for these people is that there are currently fewer opportunities to re-enter the labor market, as the number of vacancies is lower due to the pandemic." The employment agency now wants to counteract this, not least with qualification offers.

Overall, the number of unemployed in North Rhine-Westphalia fell slightly in April - as is usual in this time of year - by 1 percent to just under 750,000. "The labor market developed in line with the season in April. This is good news given the ongoing restrictions on public and economic life," said Withake. The unemployment rate in the most populous federal state was unchanged at 7.7 percent. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 6.0 percent. The deadline for collecting the data was April 13th.

"Around 44,500 people were able to return to work from unemployment in April. This meant that our new hires were just above the level from before the pandemic - even though the number of vacancies is still around a quarter below the level the past few years, "said Withake. In addition to the health and social professions, manufacturing and construction, many smaller companies in the field of economic services, such as rental and maintenance, advice and communication, as well as administration and security services, are the driving forces behind new hires. In the case of travel agencies, restaurants and parts of the retail sector, however, things are still different.

Withake is generally optimistic about the future. As soon as further successes are achieved with vaccination and, for example, the catering trade can reopen, many economic researchers believe that the economy will pick up again. "We believe that there can then also be a gradual decline in unemployment that goes beyond the seasonal extent," he said. "But we are currently not at this point."

A study by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) on the "corona effect" on the labor market in North Rhine-Westphalia showed that the pandemic had a drastic impact on the labor market, especially in the first few months. In April and May 2020 in particular, the number of unemployed rose significantly, while the number of successful job placements collapsed. From August onwards the labor market gradually began to recover. This trend is currently still ongoing. According to the IAB, the "corona effect" hit women, older employees and employees without completed vocational training particularly hard.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210429-99-399151 / 3