Situation room report 18.6.2020 – latest developments in the labor market, households and firms

June 18, 2020

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

Many figures use the spring of 2019 as a comparison period. The background information for the figures has been collected form the registries of Statistics Finland. 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 Incomes Register. In April, the wage sum was 5% smaller in 2020 than in 2019. The sum for the second half of May is likely to still increase somewhat when new updates come in, but it seems probable that May’s wage sum will have decreased relatively more than April’s since last year when all the information is in.

The below figure compares April’s wage sum between 2020 and 2019 by industry. The figure shows for instance that the largest decrease in euro terms happened in manufacturing.

Labor market – furloughs and layoffs

The below figure shows the beginning furlough and unemployment spells by day for 2019 and 2020. The biggest spikes in furloughs occurred at the end of March and beginning of April. However, the beginning of June has also seen significantly more new furlough spells this year than last, even above 10 000 per day.

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 the general housing allowance of Kela exceeded 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 at Kela than at the corresponding time by 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 since last year in Uusimaa, where there have been nearly 40% more applications in 2020 than in the corresponding period in 2019. Meanwhile, the growth has been most modest in North Karelia (Pohjois-Karjala).

Households – unemployment benefit

The level of applications of Kela’s unemployment security exceeds last year 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 slowed down, but the growth still remains slightly faster than last year.

The coronavirus crisis has hit all regions. Analysing by county, the restrictions of the state of emergency have been the harshest on Uusimaa, where the number of applications has increased by more than 200 percent. Even in North Karelia (Pohjois-Karjala), the applications have nearly doubled.

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, meanwhile, follows from their lower rates of belonging to unemployment funds and fulfilling the employment conditions.

Of those furloughed during the state of emergency, nearly three fourths belong to single-family households. Comparison with last year shows that the state of emergency has affected families more strongly than those living alone.


Firms – share of firms with furloughs

The below figures explore what share of all firms has at least one furlough. They do not consider what share of employees has been furloughed. In addition to the share of firms, we present growth percentages showing how the share has grown. The figures show numbers by industry, county and the size class of firms (in terms of employees). The figures show, for example, that the share of firms with furloughs is the largest among the largest firms.

Firms – share of furloughed employees

The below figures show what share of employees has been furloughed, if a firm has furloughed employees. Each point on a 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). They show, for example, 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 a subsidy from Business Finland up to a certain date. Growth percentages in these shares are also presented. The figures show the numbers by industry, county and the size class of firms (in terms of employees).

Firms – bankruptcy applications

The next 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.

Firms – changes in turnover

The below figures explore the changes in turnover from 2019 to 2020 for March and, for comparison, January to February. The figures consider only firms for which the turnover for 2019 calculated form two different sources (VAT-register and business cycle data from Statistics Finland) are close enough to each other (either +/-5% or +/-100 000€). The turnovers of firms have been summed over industries, counties and size classes. As the turnover levels for different groups are very different, the differences are presented both in absolute and relative terms. For example, for the large trade industry, the differences are large in euros but small in percentages.

  • 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 media: Cite Helsinki GSE Situation Room as the source with a link to website.
  • Suggested citation in academic publications:please contact otto.toivanen [at]