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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Unemployment down to 17.8% in September

The official unemployment rate in Slovakia was 17.77% at the end of September, down 0.44 percentage points from August. Compared with September 1998, however, the latest figure represents a 4% increase.

The official rate is calculated on the basis of the number of people registered as unemployed who are immediately ready to take a job. However, when the total number of unemployed people is used as the basis for calculating the rate, September unemployment stood at 18.7%, down from 19.1% in August.

The number of reported unemployed dropped by 11,130 to 497,521 people in September, the second month running the total has fallen. Over the past 12 months, the average number of jobless people has been 462,423 people, up 26.5% from the previous 12 month period.

The September improvement, according to the National Labor Office (NÚP), came about when recently-graduated high school students, who had entered the workforce in June, began attending university in the fall semester.

The NÚP said the improvement in the overall jobless rate should not be treated as a positive sign. After a two-month decrease in the number of new unemployed, the NÚP again reported an increase from August by 10,127 people to 37,759.

The average duration of unemployment also continued to grow, and ended September at 13.74 months, which is 0.16 month longer than in August. People now tend to be without jobs for 2.81 months than in the same period in 1998. In September, the number of long-term unemployed (people without a job longer than 12 months) increased to 213,000 people, up 5,159 from August.

The number of job seekers living on unemployment benefits increased 20,499 people from September, 1998 to 108,630.

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