Unemployment continues to rise in Norway

Since May 2014, Norway has seen its unemployment numbers swell by 47,000.

Unemployment continues to rise in Norway
The problems in the oil industry mean that most job losses are in Western Norway. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
Adjusted for seasonal variations, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, according to figures released by Statistic Norway (SSB) on Wednesday. The figure corresponds with roughly 134,000 people. 
SSB’s labour force survey has shown a steady increase in unemployment since May 2014, when it stood at just 3.2 percent. 
The figures show that unemployment rose by 5,000 people from October 2015.
“The change is within the margin of error, but still in line with the trend since May 2014,” SSB wrote.
It was expected that the unemployment level would remain at about the same level as in the previous survey. Along with the new figures, SSB also revised its December unemployment rate from 4.5 to 4.6 percent.
The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) has its own unemployment figures and they too showed the same trend as the SSB results.
With the increase, unemployment in Norway is now more in line with other countries. 4.3 percent are without a job in Germany, 4.9 percent in the US, 7.0 percent in Sweden and 8.9 percent in the EU.
Erik Bruce, a chief analyst at Nordea Markets, said that although unemployment was higher than expected, SSB’s labour force survey results are not always completely accurate.
“But today's numbers fit well into a picture in which unemployment is gradually rising and employment has stagnated. The previous figures that showed a slight decline in unemployment now appear to be somewhat misleading for the underlying development,” he said in a written statement.  
Bruce said that the SSB figures indicate that unemployment is still on a rising trend and that Norges Bank is too optimistic in its estimate of an average unemployment rate of 4.6 percent this year.
“This substantiates the impression that we have a weakening of the labour market with rising unemployment and stagnating employment,” senior economist Kyrre Aamdal from DNB Markets told E24.
Bruce added that if there are more confirmations of the labour market’s deterioration, there will likely be another rate cut from Norges Bank.
Double oil downturn
The rising unemployment rate is largely due to a double oil downturn in Norway – the combination of  declining investments in the Norwegian continental shelf and a drop in oil prices of about 65 percent since the summer of 2014.
The problems in the oil industry mean that it job losses are most pronounced in the western part of the country. There are large regional differences, and in a number of counties, the unemployment rate remains significantly below that of Western Norway.
The government has in this year's budget posted a stimulus package of four billion kroner in the fight against unemployment.
The opposition believes, however, this is not enough, and the Labour Party proposed in its alternative budget a package of measures totaling seven billion kroner. Labour on Wednesday accused the government of focusing too much on tax cuts that it says will solve the challenges for the Norwegian economy.
‘We need a policy that helps, not a government that believes that tax cuts are the answer to all challenges for the Norwegian economy,” Labour’s finance spokeswoman Marianne Marthinsen said.

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You’ve lost your job in Norway due to coronavirus. Now what?

So, it's happened. You are one of the more than 200,000 people in Norway who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus. Here's what you need to do.

You've lost your job in Norway due to coronavirus. Now what?
Nav's offices in Hamar back in 2007. Photo: Thomas Andersen/Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, you are not alone. Norway now has the highest unemployment rate since World War II

And luckily for you, the Norwegian government has changed its unemployment regulation so that those temporarily or permanently laid off will receive better benefits faster than normal. 

If you are temporarily laid off, the government will give you your full salary up to a maximum of nearly 600,000 Norwegian kroner a year (six times basic income), from the 3rd day of your suspension until the 20th day, which will hopefully cover much of the coronavirus lockdown. 

This applies from March 20, but Nav only expects to be able to start making payments this week at the earliest. 

The Norwegian government will begin paying your salary from the second day that your job is suspended, rather than the 15th day, as is normally the case. 

If your hours are reduced, you will start receiving benefit as soon as they are reduced by 40 percent, whereas in normal times the threshold would be 50 percent. 

If you are permanently laid off, you will be entitled to 80 percent of your previous wage up to about 300,000 kroner, and then 62.4 percent of what you previously earned up to 600,000 kroner.

This is pretty generous.  

If you still live in Norway and have been permanently laid off: 

Register as unemployed with the Norwegian Welfare Administration (Nav).

You should apply to Nav as soon as possible. You either apply here with a bankID, Buypass or Commfides, or ring this number +47 5555 3333. Nav has produced a guide in English here

If you still live in Norway and have been temporarily laid off or had your hours reduced by 40 percent or more: 

You should also apply to Nav as soon as possible. You either apply here with a bankID, Buypass or Commfides, or ring this number +47 5555 3333.

Even if you are still waiting for a reply from Nav, you must send a 'report card' updating your situation every 14 days by filling in this form

You should also register your CV with Nav here, and make sure the correct account number is registered with Nav. 

If you worked in Norway but travelled back to another EEA country weekly or more:

Some British workers in the Norwegian oil industry return back to their home country weekly or more, qualifying as “cross-border workers”. There are also people who live in Sweden, Finland or Denmark who work across the border in Norway.

If you have your hours reduced, you are temporarily laid off or your employer is bankrupt, you must apply for unemployment benefits from Norway (see above). 

If you lose your job completely, you must apply for unemployment benefits where you live. 
You have worked in Norway and returned home to another EEA country less than once a week: 
Apply for benefits in Norway (see above). 
You live in Norway but work in another EEA country and have lost your job: 
You must register as unemployed with the Norwegian Welfare Administration (Nav) (see above). You may only qualify for unemployment benefits if your employer is also registered in Norway, or if you are move to a spouse in Norway, or have lost a job in another Nordic country. 
Here is Nav's information sheet in English for those working in another EEA country. 
You work outside Norway but your Norwegian employer has gone bankrupt 
According to Nav, you can apply for guaranteed pay, and advances on guaranteed pay in the form of unemployment benefits from Norway, regardless of your country of residence.

You are self-employed and can no longer work because of coronavirus
As part of the Norwegian government's coronavirus aid package, the self-employed are entitled to 80 percent of the average of their last three year's income up to a maximum of six times basic income (600,000 NOK). This payment starts from the 17th day after income dropped. 
You can also claim childcare benefits from the 4th day you are stuck at home, which wouldn't be possible for self-employed people normally. So far, however, these schemes do not seem to be up and running. In the meantime, you can claim income protection from Nav. 
If you employ your spouse as a small business, you cannot lay him or her off and claim government pay. If you are the sole employee of your own company, though, you can lay your self off and claim unemployment benefit. 
You can see Nav's guide for the self-employed during the coronavirus lockdown here.