In 2019, the number of employed people in Finland increased by roughly 20 thousand compared to the previous year. Currently, the employment rate target is set at 75 percent and at least 60 thousand new jobs by 2023 to balance the public finances. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the employment rate was expected to increase slightly, but the economic crisis will likely cause a long-lasting decline. One of the current challenges has been the improvement of the labor market position of people aged over 55. The employment rate for the 55-64 age group was 66.8 percent in 2019, while the employment rate of those aged 35 to 54 was over 85 percent. Finland has one of the highest rates of employment for women in Europe, but the employment rate for men was 1.5 percent higher than for women. Conversely, unemployment is more common among men than women in Finland, and female workers are generally better educated than their male counterparts.
Around 74 percent of Finns are employed in the service sector, but the industrial sector remains a significant source of employment with a share of 22 percent. The Finnish labor market is characterized by strong trade unions, as well as centralized and comprehensive policy agreements instead of local wage-bargaining models. In 2019, there were several tough labor disputes reported across business sectors. Although the number of labor disputes was lower than in the previous years, the number of lost workdays peaked at nearly 380 thousand. The average work week of employees in Finland was around 36 hours. Average monthly earnings ranged between 3,200 to 4,000 euros. Even if the average earnings within all sectors have increased, the gender pay gap has remained nearly unchanged and men still earn a higher salary than women.
Based on forecasts, the unemployment rate in Finland is estimated to increase to 8.5 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2020, the monthly unemployment rate peaked at 10.6 percent, but dropped again to below eight percent in the following months. Even if the Finnish economy recovers rapidly from the current crisis, the unemployment rate is expected to stay at a high level in the coming years.