Situation room report 4.2.2021 – latest developments in the labor market, households and firms

February 4, 2021

The Helsinki GSE situation room continues publishing reports based on up-to-date data every other week. The reports follow the economy’s development from the labor market’s, households’ and firms’ perspectives.

As the year has changed, the contents of the report will undergo some changes. However, in today’s report we still mainly focus on the situation at the end of 2020. Also, Some of the figures are under updating, therefore this report will be briefer than previous reports. Many figures use the year 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 2019.

Labor market

Labor market – wage sum

The figure below shows monthly earnings in 2019 and 2020 based on the Income Register. 2020 started at a higher level than the previous year but since April the wage sum was lower than 2019, apart from a few exceptions, with the greatest fall happening in May. In October, the wage sum again clearly exceeded 2019. There is a drop in November’s wage sum, but in December the wage sum was again above 2019 level.

When examining earnings figures, please keep in mind that information is uploaded to the Income Register with varying degrees of lag, so the figures may always slightly change in the future. In practice, data more than one month old can be considered nearly final – this means that the earnings of December can be considered nearly final.

The following figure represents average earnings of those who started an employment, furlough or unemployment spell in May 2020. The figure shows that most of the drop in the wage sum happened among those who were furloughed. The wage sum of those who were laid of also fell, but it was much smaller to begin with. The wage sum of those furloughed in May returned to the same trend as the wage sum of those who staid employed in July, but it seems to have been stuck permanently at a lower level, which suggests that some part of those furloughed have not been able to return to work, at least not full time. The wage sum of those laid off has also recovered slightly, but was still lagging behind 2019 in November.

The figure below compares the industry level earnings in November 2019 and 2020 (a place is reserved for 2021 – hence the legend entry – but it is empty for now). In December, earnings in trade are just above last year’s level. All of the larger industries, such as public administration, manufacturing etc. are above last year’s levels. Support services, logistics, recreational services, and hotels and restaurants have had clearly smaller earnings in December 2020 than in December 2019, which was also the case for November.

Labor market – furloughs and layoffs

The figure below shows the weekly new furlough and unemployment spells in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Amount of new spells increased more in the beginning of the crisis, but have declined after that. Throughout the year new furlough spells have been above last year’s new furlough spells. In the beginning of 2021 furlough spells are still above 2019.

The next figure breaks down the amount of new unemployment and furlough spells in 2019 and 2020 by industry. The number of newly unemployed and furloughed has grown in all industries. The largest growth has been in manufacturing, trade and hotels & restaurants. Of the major industries, public administration has been least affected in terms of new lay off spells.


Firms – turnover

The turnover of firms was slightly smaller than the previous year in January, but overtook it February and March. However, from April to October, turnovers were smaller for 2020 than 2019. The largest drops again took place in April and May. Turnover data is currently reliably available only up to October.

  • 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]