Unemployment in Lithuania has reached 14 percent during the pandemic. At 20 percent, the unemployment rate is the highest in the northwestern Lithuanian district of Kelmė.
“I live in the village. […] I registered at the employment service and received disability benefits. That is how I survive,” an unemployed man in Kelmė told LRT TV.
“I farm at home. I also registered at the employment service. It is very difficult to find a job here in Kelmė,” another jobless woman added.
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Pakruojis in northern Lithuania is one of a few districts where the unemployment rate has decreased during the pandemic. It currently stands at 10 percent.
Several large firms and farms are the major employers in Pakruojis, but businesses say that finding workers is difficult because people prefer to live on benefits.
“The larger farms are trying to be socially active and support their employees all year round. […] But people still have little desire to work,” Albinas Navickas, a farmer in Pakruojis, said.
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According to the Lithuanian Employment Service, the greatest demand in the labour market is for marketing specialists, accountants, teachers, and construction workers.
Recently, the service has started paying job search benefits of up to 200 euros to people who have lost their jobs during the quarantine. The unemployed can receive benefits for up to six months. The scheme has received criticism from businesses and politicians.
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“Financial aid was probably necessary […]. But instead of giving additional benefits next to unemployment benefits, [the government] could have created other incentives through businesses,” Saulius Margis, the mayor of Pakruojis, said.
Lithuania was placed under quarantine on March 16, with many businesses ordered to close in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The share of registered jobseekers jumped by more than 2 percentage points.
Around 240,000 people are currently unemployed in Lithuania.