CiNext – MaltaInsights

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by Ci Consulta



The number of registered unemployed rose by 430 from April to May, an increase of 10.8 percent to reach 4,409. Figures published by the National Statistics Office show a rise of 2,740 on the unemployment register compared to May last year.

Increases were observed across all age groups, but the biggest month-on-month change was recorded among people aged between 25 and 29 years, where unemployment grew by 20 percent to over 570 people. The lowest increase was registered among those 45 and over (7.4%), however, at 1,583 unemployed the group has the biggest number in absolute terms.

Just over a quarter of unemployed persons are registered as clerical support workers, and a fifth classify as technicians and associate professionals. The smallest increase in registered unemployment was seen in elementary occupations, up 3.5 percent from April; jobs in the managerial category, on the other hand, recorded the biggest rise (26%), going from 341 in April to 431 in May.

Managers made up 5.5 percent of the job seeking market in May last year, growing to 9.8 percent this year. This was the highest gain of share in terms of job categories. By contrast, unemployed skilled workers in the agricultural and fisheries sectors increased by 27 percent compared with last year, but at 60 people, the share of this category shrunk from 2.8 percent to 1.4 percent of the registered unemployed over the same period.



Total employment stood at 260,827 between January and March this year, an increase of more than 13,500 compared to the first quarter last year. The Labour Force Survey published by the National Statistics office estimates at 75 percent of people aged between 16 and 64 were employed.

Just over 220.300 were registered as employees, accounting to 85 percent of the population in employment. Self-employed without employees numbered slightly below 28,200 while 12,178 were self-employed with employees.

The share of unemployed in the workforce decreased to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent during the same period the previous year, and the number stood at 9,006 in 2020. Persons who are neither active in the labour market nor unemployed, increased by 11,050 from last year and numbered 432,489. The share of inactive people, however, decreased from 39.1 to 37.6 over the same period.

Men registered a higher rate of employment than women across all age groups, but the greatest contrast was observed between the 55-64 group and the 15-24 group. While women make a third of the oldest age bracket, the lowest share, they constitute 47 percent of the younger bracket, the highest share.

Retail trade, transportation, accommodation, and food service is the largest economic activity in terms of employment, engaging more than 72,000 people or 27.6 percent of the entire workforce. Another 62,800 are employed in public administration, defence, education, health, and social work. At the other end, the sectors employing the least people are agriculture and fishing activities (2,572) and real estate activities (2,311).

Over a third of women are employed in public administration, defence, education, health, and social work, outnumbering men by more than 11,600. There are also more women than men in financial and insurance activities as well as in uncategorised services. There are 13,051 women working in professional, scientific technical administration and support services, only 36 fewer than men.

Three in ten men are engaged in retail trade, transportation, accommodation, and food service while financial and insurance activities attract them the least, with around four percent of men working in this category.


Malta is one of four EU countries where non-financial sectors hold more than a tenth of government debt. Figures by Eurostat show that 26 percent of debt in Malta is held by non-financial corporations, households and non-profit institutions serving households – the second-highest among the EU27. Hungary has the highest rate of debt in non-financial sectors, accounting to 28 percent of the general total.

Just under 60 percent of government debt in Malta is held by resident financial corporations, the fifth-highest share in the EU after Denmark (74%), Sweden (73%, Croatia (67%), and Italy (63%).

At the other end, with less than 20 percent of total government debt, Cyprus recorded the lowest share held by resident financial corporations. In fact, four-fifths of it is held by non-resident institutions.

By contrast, Malta has the lowest rate of debt held by non-resident institutions, at around 15 percent. Sweden is the only other country to hold less than a fifth of its debt with non-resident sectors.

Debt securities are the main financial instrument used by EU members, notably so in the Czech Republic where they comprise 92 percent of total general government debt. In Malta, the share is of 86 percent, exactly like France but lower than Hungary, Slovenia, and Spain (all 87%). Loans are prevalent in Estonia (88%) and Greece (81%), while Cyprus, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg, and Portugal all use the instrument for more than a quarter of their debt.


The Retail Price Index fell by 0.5 percent from April to May, closing at a rate of 103.43. Figures by the National Statistics Office show an annual rate increase of 0.66 percent compared with the same month last year, a decline from the 0.83 annual increase registered in April 2020. In fact, this was the smallest increase in the annual rate in the two years under review.

The twelve-month moving average rate stood at 1.30 percent in May, the lowest since February 2019 and continuing a gradual narrowing since reaching 1.73 percent in August last year.

Clothing and Footwear registered the highest rise month-on-month, climbing by 2.98 percent in May. Compared with the same month in 2019, though, the category fell by 1.42 percent, the second-highest decrease after Recreation and Culture (-2.38%).

On the other hand, the biggest increase from last year was observed in Housing, which grew by 2.09 percent, and Food, rising by 1.98 percent. The latter category includes restaurant services and take-aways. Compared with the previous months, however, the rise in Housing was 0.08 percent while Food decreased by 0.95 percent.


There were 4,090 people requesting international protection in Malta during 2019, almost double the number recorded in the previous year. The figure represents 0.6 percent of the share of asylum applicants across the EU: Germany has the highest share at 23 percent, followed by France and Spain with 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Data by the National Statistics office shows that the number of boat landings in Malta rose to 43 last year, the highest since 2008. The number of persons onboard amounted to 3,405, an increase from 1,445 during the previous year.

The Refugee Commissioner processed slightly over 1,000 asylum applications, accepting two-fifths, and rejecting the rest. The majority of people whose request for protection was granted are of Syrian citizenship (70%) or Libyan citizenship (15%). Applicants originating from any of these two countries make 17 percent of the total arrivals, while people from Sudan make the largest group by citizenship, at 26 percent. Four in five asylum seekers were from African countries.

Malta received the second-highest number of applications for processing relative to its population size in the EU, equivalent to 8,286 requests for every million inhabitants. Cyprus had the highest number, at 15,584 per million, while Greece ranks third with 7,205 applications per million. Greece received more than a tenth of the total applications in the EU, while Cyprus has slightly under two percent of the share.

Nearly eight in every ten applicants in Malta were within the 18 to 34 age bracket and 2,900 are male. There have been 635 relocations of asylum seekers during 2019, with more than 80 percent of them heading to France or Germany.