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Unemployment levels remained steady in January, at 4.4 per cent according to official data released on Wednesday.

January’s unemployment rate matched that of December, indicating COVID tolls on the labour market are largely being mitigated.

The 4.4 per cent figure, which reflects 12,041 persons unemployed, is a 0.7 per cent rise on the same figure for January 2020. Although January 2021’s rate does reflect a slight decrease on the 12,055 people reported to be unemployed in December.

This comes as discussion surrounding more restrictive COVID measures reached a fever pitch as daily cases continue to spiral, with more than 300 new cases recorded for the first time on Tuesday. In light of the case numbers, questions have been raised about the viability of a summer recovery, which many companies in the tourism industry have stated is essential for their survival.

Also this week, Prime Minister Robert Abela reiterated that Government initiatives during COVID have been effective in securing jobs. In the last few months, he said, the Government has “paid hundreds of millions of euros in wage supplements and quarantine leave”, to the tune of €336 million. 

The unemployment report also reveals that the younger generation continues to bear the brunt of unemployment, with an unemployment rate of 11.6 per cent amongst those aged 15-24, as opposed to a rate of 3.6 per cent amongst those aged 25 to 74. This is up from 10.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively in January 2020. 

The report, which is released monthly, counts the unemployment rate as the proportion of individuals as a percentage of the labour force, who, during the reference week are without work, actively searching for work, and able to start working within two weeks of the reference week.

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