Over 12,500 unemployed, according to Labour Force Survey

Malta’s unemployment rate continued to increase during the summer months according to the Labour Force Survey, reaching 4.6% – or an estimated 12,589 people.

The latest edition of the LFS, published by the National Statistics Office on Tuesday and covering the third quarter of the year, suggests that the unemployment rate has continued to rise in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic: the rate had been 4.4% in the second quarter and 3.3% in the first.

But different statistics may paint a different picture on Malta’s job situation, with the NSO’s latest publication on the unemployment rate indicating that the rate had reached 3.9% in October, equivalent to 10,681 persons. In the same month, the number of registered unemployed stood at 3,114 according to data provided by JobsPlus: the number had peaked at the early stages of the pandemic but is presently on a downward trend.

Statistics on Covid-19 job losses still unavailable

The differences are due to different methodologies, with the Labour Force Survey based on a sample of 3,200 households sampled throughout each quarter. The unemployment rate is itself based on the LFS, but is seasonally adjusted in line with the definition recommended by the International Labour Organisation.

The number of registered unemployed simply comprises those which are registered as looking for work with JobsPlus under Part 1 or Part 2 of the register.

JobsPlus is also scheduled to regularly provide another important employment statistic: the number of registered employed, representing all legally-registered jobs in the Maltese islands. This figure could provide a clearer picture of the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market, not least since thousands of foreign workers are believed to have left the country after losing their jobs.

However, the publication of registered employment figures has now been delayed for months: the latest-available figures cover January, before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy.

It is yet to be determined when more recent figures are to be made available, with the NSO blaming technical problems for the delay.

“Th​e publication of the monthly Registered Employment release was suspended because of technical reasons. The NSO is working to resume the publication as soon as possible,” the office observed in its calendar of news releases, along with a more general warning that the pandemic meant that it could not guarantee that all its statistics would be issued on time.