Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Jobless stats don't tell whole story

While the government searches for an answer to unemployment, which rose to a record-breaking 20.1% at the end of 1999, analysts have taken a deeper look into jobless figures and have found that the unemployment statistics used by the government are misleading, and cost taxpayers billions of crowns annually.
Unemployment data in Slovakia are measured by both the National Labour Bureau and the Statistical Office. However, labour bureau figures (used for official purposes by the government) consistently differ from those provided by the Statistics Office, the preferred source of economic analysts. The difference between these figures, according to pundits, reflects the number of people who are actually working yet at the same time collecting social benefits handouts.

While the government searches for an answer to unemployment, which rose to a record-breaking 20.1% at the end of 1999, analysts have taken a deeper look into jobless figures and have found that the unemployment statistics used by the government are misleading, and cost taxpayers billions of crowns annually.

Unemployment data in Slovakia are measured by both the National Labour Bureau and the Statistical Office. However, labour bureau figures (used for official purposes by the government) consistently differ from those provided by the Statistics Office, the preferred source of economic analysts. The difference between these figures, according to pundits, reflects the number of people who are actually working yet at the same time collecting social benefits handouts.

"When you compare the rates between the labour bureau and the statistics office, you can see that there is around a 2% difference," said Ján Tóth, an analyst for the Dutch investment bank ING Barings. "So, if you read in the paper that unemployment is 20.1% in December, you can deduct 2% and get a more realistic idea of what it actually is."

The difference between the two figures reflects variations in the way the data is collected. The labour bureau gathers its numbers from the amount of people actually registered at the unemployment office, while the statistics office collects data via an anonymous quarterly survey.

Tóth said that the discrepancy represented about 65,000 people nation-wide, and estimated that people receiving unemployment insurance while actually working cost the government 5.7 billion crowns ($138 million) annually, 0.7% of Slovakia's GDP.

"It's very costly for people to be claiming to be unemployed who actually are not," he said. "You have to pay their unemployment benefits, but that's not the whole story. Those people also do not pay social insurance, so the state has to pay them at the taxpayers' expense," Tóth said.

Martin Barto, head of strategy at the state-owned bank SLSP, saw the problem as of utmost importance in the government's quest to straighten out the economy. There is no one simple solution, he said, as the problem needs to be fought on several levels such as increasing transparency in the economy, creating more effective laws and creating a more attractive environment for foreign investors.

"I think this is a very important problem. It needs to be addressed as soon as possible because devising a suitable programme will take time," Barto said.

Top stories

LGBTI people in the regions: We change people’s minds

Bratislava will dress up in rainbow colours this August again, for the seventh time. This will be for the Bratislava Dúhový Pride diversity festival. But the colours of the rainbow are less bright in the regions,…

Slovakia’s LGBTI community seeks to expand their rights.

Things that make us different also make us stronger

On August 19, a rainbow flag will fly over the US Embassy in Bratislava to represent the firm commitment of the United States to defending the human rights of LGBTI people, writes Ambassador Sterling.

The rainbow flag flew over the US Embassy in Bratislava in 2016.

Blog: 5 things you should do on your visit to the north of Slovakia Photo

Here is a list of tips by an experienced tour guide - including things you have probably not tried before.

Bratislava growing high Photo

High-rise buildings sprouting up in Bratislava

Visualisation of the future skyline of Bratislava