THE UNEMPLOYMENT rate dropped to 12.96 percent in April, thereby decreasing by 1.45 percentage points (p.p.) year-on-year, the Labour, Social Affairs and Family Centre (ÚPSVaR) announced on May 20. In terms of monthly developments, the figure fell 0.32 p.p. month-on-month, thus contributing to a continuing fall in the number of unemployed people.

April had a total of 349,745 jobseekers immediately available for work registered at job centres, the TASR newswire reported, quoting ÚPSVaR. This was a reduction of 10.08 percent y/y, or 39,203 individuals, and a fall of 2.38 percent, or 8,540 jobseekers, on a monthly basis.

When all jobseekers - including those not immediately available to take up a job - are taken into account, unemployment in Slovakia equalled 14.46 percent in April 2014, which represented a y/y drop of 1.18 p.p., added ÚPSVaR head Marian Valentovič at a press conference. The figure was down 0.26 p.p. when compared with March 2014.

The total number of all jobseekers stood at 390,272 individuals, which was a drop of 7.7 percent, or 31,799 jobseekers, on an annual basis, and a decrease of 1.75 percent, or 6,944 individuals in monthly terms. Moreover, the rate was down in all regions, with the most marked reduction witnessed in Banská Bystrica Region (by 0.78 p.p. m/m).

Speaking at the press conference, Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Minister Ján Richter stated that this is a continuation of a favourable trend that was also accompanied by significant decreases in the numbers of the long-term jobless and unemployed graduates. Richter further said that the figures over the past few months indicate that the rate may be curbed to the EU average in the course of this year. [The unemployment rate for the EU28 stood at 10.5 percent as of March 2014 - ed. note].

The unemployment rate could fall to close to 12 percent later this year, Ľuboš Sirota of the recruitment consultancy McROY told TASR. “The positive trend is being helped by a recovery in Slovakia’s most important export markets, stable domestic demand and an absence of new negative intervention in the market environment,” Sirota said, noting that improvements in the labour market are coming despite the fact that Slovakia has attracted no new foreign investments of late. “This confirms that whenever there’s economic growth, jobs are being created and all that needs to be done is to make sure the state doesn’t harm the business environment. Unless ill-advised measures are taken in the area of labour law or the crisis in Ukraine deepens, the unemployment rate could, given an optimistic scenario, drop close to 12 percent,” Sirota said. One such ill-advised measure might be an inappropriate rise in the minimum wage - such as an increase of 13.6 percent to €400 per month – as pursued by the Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ).

Tatra Banka analyst Boris Fojtík noted that the unemployment rate is benefiting from the improved performance of the economy as a whole, which was clear from the rise in employment levels in the first quarter of 2014. “Apparently, the relation between the rise in GDP and the rise in employment has changed after 2009 and, as a result, even economic growth of 1.5 percent is currently enough to create new jobs,” said Fojtík.

(Source: TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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