Norway unemployment drops as pandemic fades

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Norwegian registered unemployment fell to 3.3% in May, the country’s labour agency (NAV) said on Friday, down from 4.0% in April as many COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and private-sector hiring rose.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected registered unemployment of 3.5% for May.

The government and the Oslo municipality both lifted another set of restrictions this week. In the capital, bars and restaurants were allowed to open for the first time in six months, setting the stage for further declines in unemployment.

“The effects of the latest easing of national restrictions and the reopening in Oslo will be reflected in next month’s numbers,” NAV chief Hans Christian Holte said in a statement.

Unemployment has dropped from a level of more than 10% in March of last year, when a lockdown to curb the initial outbreak of the pandemic caused a surge in layoffs and furloughs.

The jobless rate is still higher than the pre-pandemic level of 2.3% seen in February of 2020, however.

Including those who are only partly employed, the rate of unemployment stands at 6.5%, down from 7.2% one month ago.