Of the over 510,000 unemployed people in Slovakia (19.19% of the labour force) at the end of July, almost 70% have been without a job for longer than a year. Labour Minister Peter Magvaši said on September 6 that generous social benefits allowances do not motivate people to seek jobs.
Cabinet recently passed a draft amendment to the welfare system which would lower the maximum unemployment benefit from 5,400 Slovak crowns to 4,500, and shorten the time for receiving benefits from 12 to 9 months.
Magvaši added that the government would also seek to battle rising unemployment by removing tax and bureaucratic barriers for tradesmen and small entrepreneurs. In this way, he said, the cabinet hoped to increase the number of self-employed people from the current 220,000 to 400,000.
This year, unemployment has risen sharply on the shoulders of the industrial and construction sectors, where 40,000 people combined have lost their jobs in 1999.