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Hospitality hit hardest as Austrian unemployment rises during lockdown

·2 min read

VIENNA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Austrian unemployment rose in November as a coronavirus lockdown kicked in in the second half of the month, Labour Minister Christine Aschbacher said on Tuesday, with hospitality jobs especially hard hit.

The unemployment rate at the end of November rose to 9.5% from 7.4% a year earlier. The number of job-seekers - those registered as unemployed or in training - rose by a quarter year-on-year to 457,197.

That was an increase of roughly 33,000 from a month earlier, Aschbacher told a news conference, of which about 20,000 were "due to the crisis" and around 13,000 were the result of seasonal effects.

"The effects of the pandemic but also the global economic crisis that it caused are leaving deep marks on the job market," Aschbacher said, adding that public health measures were currently the top priority.

The sector in which joblessness increased the most year-on-year was hospitality, with a 43% jump, followed by transport and warehousing, in which it rose 41%, official data showed.

Faced with rapidly accelerating infections, Austria's conservative-led government introduced a second lockdown on Nov. 17 that will expire on Monday. What will then reopen and in what order is unclear, though the government has said schools and shops will be the first priority.

The number of people registered for the national layoff prevention scheme, under which employers only pay staff for hours actually worked and the government tops up the difference to 80%-90% of their salary, also rose to 276,370 at the end of November, an increase of about 57,500 from a week earlier.

The number of people registered for the so-called "kurzarbeit" scheme is expected to rise further, Aschbacher said, adding that 5.2 billion euros have been spent on the scheme since the start of the pandemic. (Reporting by Francois Murphy)