Report: Arctic 5 cities and COVID-19 pandemic - Labour markets as the pandemic abates

The latest report by GenZ - Economic Resilience research team focuses on the labour market situation in the Arctic 5 cities, which are Oulu and Rovaniemi in Finland, Luleå and Umeå in Sweden, and Tromsø in Norway. The report investigates whether people have returned to workplaces or whether remote work is still a general trend, and how the unemployment rate and new job vacancies have developed especially in the last two years. This report expands the analysis made in earlier reports studying the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery processes in Arctic 5 cities. Link to this and earlier reports can be found below.

Summary of the report

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the economy and especially labour markets over the last two years. In the beginning of the pandemic several people lost their job or were laid off. Remote working increased significantly in all workplaces where it was possible. In the autumn of 2021, people began to return to their offices in most of the Arctic 5 cities. That trend seems to have continued this year.

Our report shows people in Luleå and Umeå have returned to workplaces most eagerly and in Oulu the least. Stricter regulations and recommendations in Finland compared to the neighbouring countries during the whole pandemic explain this at least partly. The industrial structure which varies from city to city is another possible factor behind this development. In Oulu, for instance, where ICT and other knowledge intensive sectors employ a significant amount of people, work tasks can be performed more easily remotely.

The economies of the Arctic 5 cities seem to have recovered well from the pandemic. Unemployment has decreased in all cities and is already at a lower level than it has been for the last 15 years. Since summer 2020, the number of new open vacancies has increased rapidly in all cities. As a result, labour shortage is a serious and growing problem in every Arctic 5 city, and the cities are faced with a challenge of finding and attracting skilled workforce.

Read the full report

The COVID-19 pandemic has been first and foremost a health crisis, but it has had a severe negative, asymmetric impact not only on individuals, but also on communities and regions. Arctic regions are no exception. This latest report broadens the analysis performed in our earlier reports.

Read previous reports and more on our research on our webpage

Last updated: 30.6.2022