IT WILL take some more time until Slovakia’s labour market is able to squeeze its double-digit jobless rate under 10 percent or somewhere at least closer to the pre-crisis level. But at least the registered unemployment rate for August hit its lowest level of 2010 at 12.19 percent, even though that means there are still 327,467 Slovaks immediately ready to take up a job, the Centre of Labour, Social Affairs and Family reported on September 20.
Economists and labour market analysts caution against excessive optimism, suggesting that the lower jobless rate for August stems mostly from summer seasonal employment painting a rosier picture. Nevertheless, they said the seeds of recovery in the job market have now been sown and employment growth is beginning to take root.
Data from Slovakia’s Statistics Office showed that the quarterly unemployment rate stood at 14.4 percent from April to June 2010, 28.5 percent higher than the same period in 2009 which meant that 388,300 people were without work over this three-month period.
A leading job portal in Slovakia reported that there are on average about 46 applicants for each advertised job opening and that the greatest influx of job applicants is for positions with lower-level qualifications. At the end of June, labour offices already predicted that new school graduates this year had a much worse likelihood of finding jobs than their peers did two years ago.
But surprisingly the number of unemployed graduates dropped by 1,700 in August compared to July. More than 3,000 graduates were added to the unemployment rolls in August but about 4,700 graduates had found jobs between July and August, said Eva Sadovská, an analyst with Poštová Banka.
“We expect additional unemployed graduates, mainly from high schools, in September since during the summer months they are still registered as students and they are only obliged to report to labour offices in September,” Sadovská told The Slovak Spectator.
But there has been some light breaking out in other areas of the labour market: in August 1,288 persons classified as qualified craftsmen or production workers found jobs and lower unemployment rates were registered across all economic sectors in Slovakia in August.
“The August unemployment data were helped by seasonal work typical for the summer,” said Sadovská. “These [jobs] compensated for some of the layoffs at companies.”
The analyst reported that Banská Bystrica Region remained in the undesirable position of leading Slovakia’s regions with an unemployment rate of 18.44 percent while Bratislava Region continued to post the lowest level of unemployment, at 4.72 percent.
All of Slovakia’s eight regions posted a monthly drop in their unemployment rates except for Bratislava Region which recorded a slight uptick in August, according to Sadovská, who added that the most significant improvement in employment, with 1,000 persons finding jobs, was recorded in Prešov Region.
Across the country in August there were 7,743 available jobs, a slight increase compared to the 7,353 open jobs in July. Bratislava Region offered the highest number of available positions at 1,648, which is five times more than the number listed as available in Košice Region, Sadovská said.
“In the Slovak labour market there is a certain discrepancy between the structure of the available jobs and the job applicants,” Sadovská told The Slovak Spectator. “Perhaps it would be useful if high schools as well as universities took the needs of business into more consideration.”
In the upcoming months Sadovská expects a small, gradual drop in the unemployment rate in response to more vigorous recovery in Slovakia’s economy.
“However, we do not expect the jobless rate to sink significantly under the 12-percent level by the end of the year, which is currently the registered jobless rate calculated by the Centre of Labour, Social Affairs and Family,” Sadovská told The Slovak Spectator.
Data from the Statistics Office show that the number of employed people has increased by 4,500 since the beginning of the year, mainly in industrial sectors, while the retail and service sectors employed fewer people in July than at the beginning of 2010.
“The reason is the still-high unemployment and its related weaker consumer demand,” Sadovská said. “Industry on the other hand, thanks to foreign demand, is recovering and more is being produced and employees are gradually being hired.”
The number of persons eligible to receive unemployment benefits in Slovakia fell in August for the fifth month in a row. Sociálna Poisťovňa, Slovakia’s social insurer, paid unemployment benefits to 40,900 people in August which is nearly 1,200 fewer than in July, the SITA newswire reported. Compared to August 2009, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits tumbled by 22,600. Those receiving unemployment benefits had grown for nine consecutive months until September 2009, from nearly 23,400 in November 2008 to a five-year high of 63,500 in August 2009, SITA wrote.
Lucia Burianová of the Profesia job portal told The Slovak Spectator that many applicants using her firm’s services were searching for jobs such as shop assistants, cleaners and drivers.
For example, Burianová said that for cleaning staff positions advertised by Profesia as many as 131 people had applied for each job. Likewise, 120 people had applied to each advertised position as a driver. She added that during the summer months the position of sales representative, one of the most frequently offered jobs, had attracted 70 applicants for each advertised position.
“In all [economic] sectors the number of applicants this year is higher than it was in July 2008,” Burianová said. “In the summer of 2008, eight people applied on average for one position across Slovakia as a whole.”
Burianová said that the automotive industry, which was significantly affected by the economic crisis, has twice the number of applicants for each advertised job than it did before the downturn.
“In the same way, seven times more people respond to [advertised] jobs in the tourism, gastronomy, hotels, leasing, insurance and production sectors,” Burianová stated.
She added that there are also significant differences in the number of applicants for administrative jobs, where two years ago 16 people had applied for each advertised position but this year the ratio was 90 people for each posted job.
“There were six people applying for one position within the information technology sector before the crisis and today nine people apply,” said Burianová.
Government offices and the media have reported that the appetite of Slovaks for jobs abroad is once again growing. The Statistics Office stated that in the second quarter of 2010, 4.7 percent more Slovaks left the country for work compared to the same period last year and that about 130,000 people were working abroad in the second quarter of this year.
Last month about 15 percent of those who posted a CV on Profesia’s job portal said they were also interested in jobs abroad, Burianová confirmed.
“We recorded a drop in interest in jobs abroad at the end of 2008 at the beginning of the downturn,” Burianová said. “Last fall, the share of people seeking jobs abroad increased again and by the beginning of the year it had returned to its pre-crisis level.”
27. Sep 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff