Higher unemployment
Labour market and earnings;Labour market and earnings;Immigration and immigrants
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Labour force surveyQ4 1999



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Higher unemployment

Unemployment rose by 14,000 and employment by 8,000 from fourth quarter 1998 to fourth quarter 1999. There was no change in the average unemployment rate from 1998 to 1999, but the quarterly figures show a 12-month change with declining unemployment until summer 1999 followed by an increase.

About 73.2 per cent of the population (16-74 years) were either employed or unemployed in fourth quarter 1999, as opposed to 72.9 per cent a year before. Labour force participation rose by 0.7 per cent for women and declined by 0.1 per cent for men. As for individual age groups, there was a strong increase in labour force participation among both women and men in the age group 16-19.

Compared to fourth quarter 1998, there was still a considerable increase in employment within health and social services as well as business services. Manufacturing, on the other hand, showed a clear decline in employment.

Higher unemployment also among women

A total of 74,000 persons were unemployed in fourth quarter 1999, accounting for 3.2 per cent of the workforce, compared to 2.6 per cent the same period the year before. Unemployment has risen among both men and women, increasing from 2.3 to 2.8 per cent among women and from 2.8 to 3.5 per cent among men. Women 16-24 years of age had the sharpest rise in unemployment, while women 55 years and older was the only group to see a continued decline in unemployment.

The number of long-term unemployed remained unchanged last year. Long-term unemployed are those who at the time of the survey had been continuously unemployed for more than a half year. The rate remained unchanged: 17 per cent.

There were 67,000 underemployed in the fourth quarter, i.e. part-time employed seeking more work. This is 2,000 fewer than in the same quarter the previous year. As a percentage of part-time employed, this corresponds to a drop from 11.8 to 11.1 per cent.

Decline in man-weeks worked

Statistics Norway has estimated a decrease of 17,000 man-weeks worked (0.9 per cent), but the figures are uncertain, in part because of different days for public holidays the last two weeks of December in those two years and in part because the percentage of people who took holiday leave during part of the reference week may have been different in the two years. This has resulted in a break in the time series for man-weeks worked and for absence.

Fewer temporary employed

There were 192,000 temporary employed in the fourth quarter of last year, 19,000 less than the same quarter the year before. The rate of temporary employment was relatively highest in the primary industries, the hotel and restaurant industry and health and social services. Public administration showed a 2.7 percentage-point drop in temporary employment, representing the greatest decline. However, the hotel and restaurant industry showed a 1.5 percentage-point increase.

Rise in illness absence

Around 93,000 employed people were temporarily absent due to sickness the entire survey week in the fourth quarter. The illness-related absence rate for women was 5.0 per cent and 3.4 per cent for men. Adjusted for the break in the time series, the growth in sickness absence last year is estimated at 0.3 percentage points for men and 0.8 percentage points for women. On average, sickness absence went up from 3.2 to 3.7 per cent from 1998 to 1999.

County figures

The LFS has published county figures for the first time. Because there is a relatively high degree of uncertainty attached to these figures, the trend should be viewed within the context of several quarters/years. Published in this round are yearly average employment figures per industry (1997-1999). From 1998 to 1999, employment grew by 10,000 nationwide, with Akershus accounting for 4,000 jobs. The other counties showed only minimal changes in the total number of employed. Telemark and Hordaland had the greatest employment decline in manufacturing.

Seasonally adjusted figures

Quality tests show that the seasonally adjusted LFS unemployment figures are uncertain. The seasonal-adjustment method has problems identifying a seasonal pattern in this series of figures. The random results are relatively large compared to the seasonal component, hence one must keep in mind that the unemployment figures contain a particularly high degree of uncertainty. Statistics Norway plans to publish seasonally adjusted LFS figures based on the observed seasonal pattern after the readjustment in 1996.


2000 (C) Statistics Norway