Updated 3.15pm with PN statement below -
Unemployment rose by 19.9% in March when compared to the same month in 2019, as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns led to redundancies across the board.
When compared to the previous month, February, unemployment in March rose by an even steeper 28%.
The number of people registering for work in March stood at 2,125, the National Statistics Office said in a news release on Tuesday. One month earlier, 1,659 people were registered as unemployed. In March 2019, there were 1,772 people on the unemployment register.
Data provided by Jobsplus showed that registered unemployment levels increased across all age groups last month, the NSO said.
Short-term unemployed - those registering for work for less than 21 weeks - increased by 80.3% when compared to the same month last year.
On the other hand, those registering for work for more than 21 weeks decreased over the March 2019 levels. The largest drop was recorded among persons who had been unemployed for more than one year.
The number of persons with a disability who were registering for work increased by 20 when compared to the previous year, reaching 239. Males accounted for 71.1% of total registrants with a disability.
The largest share of men (20%) and women (39%) on the unemployment register sought occupations as clerical support workers.
PN blames ‘discriminatory’ government policy for job losses
In a statement, the Nationalist Party expressed its regret over the sharp increase in the number of unemployed.
It blamed the government for having been ‘discriminatory’ in its assistance to workers affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19, pointing out that whole sectors had been excluded.
As a result, hundreds of jobs had been lost within days of the COVID-19 crisis in Malta.
The PN said the NSO data belied government claims that no sectors or workers were suffering.
The job numbers confirmed that the government had committed a social injustice with many workers and their families.
The PN reiterated its appeal for the government’s wage supplement of €800 monthly to be extended to all companies which had seen their cashflow drop by more than half, thus helping them retain their workforce.
In continuing to refuse to do so, the government could potentially endanger thousands of jobs, the party warned.
The statement was signed by Claudio Grech, shadow minister for the economy and Clyde Puli, shadow minister for education and employment.
Government responds - the situation was worse under PN government
In a reaction, the government hit out at the opposition for trying to score political points in the COVID-19 crisis.
It said its aid to business programmes were aimed at helping businesses retain their workers, and also to help the unemployed. The last package was drafted in agreement with all the social partners.
Unemployment now was still significantly less than in 2013, when the PN left office the government said.
While unemployment went up by 466 in March compared to February, during the financial crisis, unemployment rose by 627 between December 2008 and January 2009.
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