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Jobless rate hits all-time low

UNEMPLOYMENT in Slovakia hit the lowest level in the country's history at the end of August, with a jobless rate of 8.19 percent, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote.

Unemployment has been on the decline for the last seven months.

"In September, unemployment is expected to increase moderately, as signals from job offices indicate, because we are expecting the arrival of graduates on the labour market," Ján Sihelský, the general director of the Centre of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family, told the daily. "But the general downward trend should continue."

In spite of the decline, the situation remains critical in some districts - in particular Rimavská Sobota, Revúca, Veľký Krtíš and Rožňava. Here the jobless rate exceeds 20 percent.

In terms of the country's regions, Banská Bystrica Region in central Slovakia and Košice Region in eastern Slovakia report the highest unemployment rate, with 14 percent each.

Analyst Marek Gábriš attributes the drop in unemployment to structural reforms, the inflow of foreign investments and the opening of labour markets.

Slovaks leaving the country to find work abroad have also pushed the jobless rate down, he said. Officially, more than 170,000 Slovaks are working abroad.

The decreasing unemployment has also its negatives, the daily wrote.

"We are getting signals about the new needs of the labour market from strategic employers," Sihelský said. "The market is no longer going to be able to cover their needs. This might develop into a situation where the economic growth rate slows down and thus makes the Slovak economy less competitive."

The jobless rate in Slovakia dropped 0.11 percentage points from July. Compared with August 2006, it was 1.66 points lower.

The number of job seekers able to take up a job immediately was 212,905 at the end of August. That was 2,884 people less than in July, and 39,212 less than last August.

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