When the pandemic arrived in Malta, the common wisdom was that unemployment would skyrocket. Figures of 55,000 were bandied around. At first, this seemed plausible as the numbers on the register started to climb. From under 1,700 in the beginning of March 2020, those registering for employment jumped to 4,409 at the end of May 2020. If that rate of increase had been maintained, by this October we would have had 18,500 persons seeking work. Instead, we know that at the end of October there were just 1,254 persons on the unemployment register.
Instead of record high unemployment, Malta has been experiencing record breaking lows in unemployment, month after month. It is worth noting that the drop in unemployment started in June 2020, right after the announcement of the Economic Regeneration Plan. Since then, the trend has been consistently downwards. Every day, six persons on the unemployment register find employment. A rate that is five times faster than that experienced in the long drawn post-2008 economic recovery.
Today, the numbers of those registering for work are a quarter below those that had been registering prior to the pandemic. They are six times less than the 7,350 unemployed bequeathed by the pre-2013 Conservativeadministration.
Record low unemployment across all categories
There is no category that has missed out. Unemployment is down amongst young, middle aged and elderly. It is down among men and women, among Malta and Gozo residents, and among those with disabilities. In all categories we are now at record lows, with employers crying out that they have many vacancies that they cannot fill as they cannot find enough potential employees.
This is a far cry from the disaster forecast by the Conservatives. Even at its peak, unemployment remained below what was the lowest level ever achieved by a Conservative administration, in 1991. During the much less pronounced 2008 economic shock, unemployment had touched the 8,000 level, or nearly seven times the current level.
Prime Minister Robert Abela has taken the economic machine created by Labour to new highs. Many would have been content to control the rise in unemployment. Abela continued to sustain the economy and has now achieved the best employment results in history ever achieved by a Maltese Prime Minister. Unemployment is now one-fifth of the average level since independence, and is 5,000 less than the average unemployment observed under Conservativeadministrations since 1964.