The fund reserved for the payment of unemployment benefits is running out, and will be depleted by the end of October.
Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs Árna Pál Árnason confirmed the news in parliament yesterday, when he was asked by Progressive MP Birkir Jón Jónsson to report on the state of the fund. The minister went on to say that at that time, the government would take over the payment of benefits, although no word was given on how much money would be required, where it would come from, or for how long it could be paid. The minister then encouraged business in this country to hire more people.
Unemployment in Iceland is, by previous counts, at 9.1%, and does appear to be levelling off. 19% of those accepting benefits are at least partially employed. However, taken region by region, some areas are clearly better off than others. For example, in the southwestern peninsula of Suðurnes unemployment is at an astonishing 14.3%, while in the West Fjörds only 2.5% are underemployed. In fact, unemployment is declining in the east and the south of Iceland.
Among 14,814 people receiving unemployment benefits, 2,104 are foreigners, two-thirds of whom are from Poland.