It is interesting to emphasize the results of unemployment in Iceland, compared with the current situation we have in Spain, but we must make a small digression to explain the history of Iceland and its evolution from the crisis.
You may say that we are two very different countries and cannot be compared, but the level of Icelandic dept was much higher than ours when the crisis hit. The bank debt was more than 6 times the country’s GDP. The Icelandic government decided that this debt would not be rescued with public money and allowed the banks to fail, with assets acquired by new banks formed by the government. The citizens took to the streets to demand criminal responsibilities for politicians and bankers. The currency was devalued to 1/3 of the pre-crisis value.
Did this affect unemployment? Thanks to the rapid action taken by the Icelandic government in regards to the current crisis, unemployment rates are steadily decreasing, while in Spain there seems to be a ceiling that goes on to infinity.
Currently the unemployment rate in Iceland is at 4.7% (March 2013), while in steady decline since reaching its peak of 8.3% in 2010.
The youth unemployment rate (up to 24 years) has also undergone major changes in the crisis years, having its maximum in 2010 (15.7%) and in March 2012 (15.9%), being now at 9, 7% (February 2013).
In Iceland there is no minimum wage legislation. Salaries are set either by sectoral agreements or enterprise level, or even at the individual level. However, according to statistics, in 2012 managers received the highest salaries in the private sector. Mean monthly regular salaries for full-time managers were 821 thousand ISK. Paid weekly hours were 39.9. General workers received the lowest regular salaries, 296 thousand ISK but service workers received the lowest total salaries 367 thousand ISK. Paid weekly hours for service workers were 41.6 on average.
Young finish their basic studies (high school) at age 20. During this period between 16 and 20 years, many Icelanders are also engaged in part-time work. However, it is normal that when studying at university, this time is exclusively dedicated to study. The most common jobs for young Icelanders are in the public service sector (gas stations, bars, supermarkets …). Too many young people here devote their lives to fishing, as this country is a major exporter of fish. Many young people who do not want to study choose to enter into this world as a chance to win big money fast (as was done in Spain for a long time with construction).