COVID-19 led some to predict the collapse of Malta’s economy with over 50,000 unemployed. A prediction based on the assessment of Malta’s economic model as “unsustainable” and “based on short-termism”.
Yet, the most recent release of unemployment figures shows that we have hit yet another milestone. In September, there were just 1,352 persons registering for work.
At its peak impact, COVID-19 had led to the number of persons registering climb to 4,409 in May 2020. To put things into perspective, the lowest unemployment ever achieved pre-2013 was in 1991 when the number of those on the register was 4,220.
By March 2013, there were 7,350 people registering for work; a few hundred less than the 8,000 figure seen at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.
To reverse the unemployment spike resulting from that episode, it took 72 months. To recover from the much bigger shock of the pandemic, it took just 16 months. The unemployment drop between May 2020 and September 2021 was five times the very gradual fall in unemployment that occurred after the 2008 recession.
In fact, every day since the end of May 2020, six unemployed persons have found employment.
Every day since the end of May 2020, six unemployed persons have found employment.
In sixteen months, the number of unemployed persons has fallen by 3,057, not just reversing the rise of 2,967 induced initially by the pandemic but also to a reduction in the number of those who had been unemployed before the pandemic started.
The strength of the economic recovery is being felt even more strongly in Gozo. In fact, unemployment in Gozo is one fifth below what it was before the pandemic struck and is currently six times lower than in March 2013.
According to Eurostat, the unemployment rate in Malta in September was 3.2%, or 1.5% lower than a year earlier. In contrast across the EU the unemployment rate at the end of September was just 1.0% lower than that observed a year earlier. In the EU unemployment now stands at 6.7%, versus 7.7% a year earlier, while in the euro area the rate is 7.4%, versus 8.6% a year earlier.
Malta is the country with the second lowest unemployment rate in the euro area, and the third lowest in the EU. The highest unemployment rate is 14.6% in Spain and the lowest is 2.6% in the Czech Republic.
As regards young people, the rate in Malta is 10.9%, against a 16% European average. The highest youth unemployment rate is 30.6% in Spain while the lowest is 7.4% in the Netherlands.