Situation room report 16.07.2020 – latest developments in the labor market, households and firms

July 16, 2020

The Helsinki GSE situation room continues publishing reports based on up-to-date data during the summer vacation season. The reports, which are published every other week, follow the economy’s development from the points of view of the labor market, households and firms.

Many figures use the spring of 2019 as a comparison period. The background information for the figures has been collected from the Statistics Finland’s registers. The latest available background information from Statistics Finland is from the end of 2018.

Labor market

Labor market – wage sum

The next figure shows the sum of wages by month in 2019 and 2020 based on the Income Register. In June, the wage sum was slightly less than 0.5 billion euros lower than in June last year. The difference narrowed somewhat compared to May. The wage sum has stayed below last year’s level since April.

The figure below compares the industry wage sums in June in 2020 and 2019. We see that manufacturing and logistics industries experienced largest decreases in euro terms in June compared to last year.

The following three figures show the total labor earnings in Finnish municipalities in 2019 and 2020. The first figure shows the total labor earnings in Finland’s 20 largest municipalities, while the second figure shows the percentage changes. In June, the largest drop in total earnings was in Pori, Joensuu and Vantaa.

The third figure shows the ten municipalities which have performed best and worst, among all municipalities. In June, the sum of earnings dropped more than 10% in Akaa and Heinola. On the hand, Vaasa and Kemi performed relatively well.

The next two figures show June’s labor earnings by age group. The figures show that labor earnings have decreased in all age groups. In relative terms, under 25 year olds have suffered the largest decrease.

Labor market – furloughs and layoffs

The below figure shows the beginning furlough and unemployment spells by day for 2019 and 2020. The largest spikes in furloughs occurred at the end of March and the beginning of April. However, June has also seen significantly more furlough spells this year compared to 2019. Several days have seen more than 5 000 new furlough spells.

The next figure breaks down the sum of new unemployment and furlough spells in 2019 and 2020 by industry. The numbers have grown in almost all industries, with the largest increases in manufacturing, trade, and food and accommodation services.


Households – housing allowance

The number of applications for Kela’s general housing allowance started to exceed the level of last year as the state of emergency came into effect. By the end of April, around 30 000 more applications had arrived to Kela compared to the corresponding time-period in the previous year. Since May, the growth in the number of applications has been closer to last year.

The growth in the number of applications for housing allowance has increased the most in Uusimaa, where there have been around 30% more applications in 2020 compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Nearly 80 000 individuals from Uusimaa have applied for housing benefits in 2020. Meanwhile, the growth has been lower than 10% in Pohjois-Karjala, Kainuu and Pohjois-Savo regions.

Households – unemployment benefit

The number of applications for Kela’s unemployment benefits exceeds last year’s by more than 100 000 applications. The numbers started to grow sharply a week after the state of emergency came into effect. Since May, the flood of applications has calmed down, but the growth has remained slightly faster than last year.

The coronavirus crisis has hit labor markets across all regions. Analyzing by region, the restrictions of the state of emergency have been the harshest on Uusimaa, where the number of applications has increased by more than 150 percent. Even in regions with lower unemployment benefit growth rates like Pohjois-Karjala, the applications have increased by more than 50%.

The restrictions during the state of emergency and social distancing hit service industries the most. The characteristics of service industry employees are reflected in the sex and profession distributions of those applying for Kela’s unemployment security. The fact that most of the applicants belong to the younger age groups, follows from their lower rates of belonging to unemployment funds and fulfilling employment conditions.

Comparing unemployment benefit applications with last year’s figures show that the state of emergency has affected families more strongly than those living alone.

Of those furloughed during the state of emergency, nearly three fourths belong to single-family households.


Firms – share of firms with furloughs

The figures below show what share of all firms have at least one furlough. They do not consider what share of employees in the firms that have been furloughed. The figures show numbers by industry, county and the size class of firms (in terms of employees).

During the spring and early summer almost 30 percent of firms operating in the hospitality industry have laid off workers. The timing of share increase is heavily skewed towards March and the share has remained close to its previous level during summer months.

Analyzing by regions, the figure below shows that the highest share of firms with furloughs is in Lappi and Uusimaa. The figures also show that the largest firms have a comparatively higher share of firms that have undertaken furloughs.

Firms – share of furloughed employees

The below figures show the share of employees that have been furloughed, in firms that have furloughed employees. Each point on each horizontal line describes the situation for a particular month with the month numbers marked inside the points. E.g., in the first figure, a point with number four inside it shows what share of employees was furloughed on average by firms of that particular industry in April, if any employees were furloughed – the numbers do not include firms with 0 percent of employees furloughed. The figures show the numbers by industry, county, and the size class of firms (in terms of employees).

From the first figure, we see that in March, in many industries, in firms that furloughed employees, the share of furloughed employees was high. For instance, in the hospitality industry, the share of furloughed employees, in firms that furloughed employees, was around half in March but in June, the share of furloughed employees was slightly higher than one fifth.

The last figure shows that the largest firms have furloughed the smallest share of their employees.

Firms – Business Finland subsidies

The below figures show the share of firms that have received at least one subsidy from Business Finland up to a certain date. The figures show the numbers by industry, county and the size class of firms (in terms of employees).

Firms – bankruptcy applications

The last figure shows the cumulative number of bankruptcy applications in a given year up to a certain date. The x-axis shows a date, and the y-axis the total number of bankruptcy applications left by that date since the start of the year. The years 2018 and 2019 are used for comparison with the year 2020. Even though 2020’s numbers were higher in the spring, the cumulative number of bankruptcies is now close to the level of 2018 and 2019.

  • Additional information about the Helsinki GSE Situation Room consisting of researchers from Helsinki GSE, University of Turku, VATT Institute of Economic Research and Statistics Finland:
  • Additional information about the report: Otto Toivanen, otto.toivanen [at]
  • Suggested citation in mediaCite Helsinki GSE Situation Room as the source with a link to website.
  • Suggested citation in academic publications:please contact otto.toivanen [at]