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Jobless rate rises again

MOST of the political parties competing for votes in the March 10 general election claim to have plans to create more jobs in Slovakia. The most recent data on unemployment show that the country is in urgent need of a workable plan to create more jobs and overcome various labour market problems such as the huge number of long-term unemployed.

MOST of the political parties competing for votes in the March 10 general election claim to have plans to create more jobs in Slovakia. The most recent data on unemployment show that the country is in urgent need of a workable plan to create more jobs and overcome various labour market problems such as the huge number of long-term unemployed.

Slovakia’s unemployment rate hit a seven-year peak of 13.59 percent in December, its highest level since July 2004. But some labour market analysts predict the jobless rate could reach 14 percent this year, noting that the country’s economy is highly dependent on consumer demand from other EU countries – and that that demand is noticeably sagging.

The number of jobless people ready to immediately take up jobs in December stood at 362,428, an increase of 6,773 persons, or 0.26 percentage points, compared to the previous month. Compared with December 2010 the number of unemployed people increased by 27,525 according to the Labour, Social Affairs and Family Centre (ÚPSVaR).

While analysts conceded that December’s jobless rate, with nearly 400,000 Slovaks without jobs, is at a dangerously high level they noted that higher unemployment is normal in the month of December.
“The truth is that the December rise in the number of unemployed is repeated each year,” Eva Sadovská, an analyst with Poštová Banka, told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the trend only becomes more visible in times of high unemployment.

Slovakia posted the third highest unemployment rate among all member countries of the OECD with only Spain (22.9 percent jobless rate) and Ireland (14.6 percent) recording gloomier numbers in November 2011. The average unemployment rate across OECD countries was 8.2 percent in November while the average in the eurozone stood at 10.3 percent in November, matching the previous month, the SITA newswire reported.

The total number of jobless people in the OECD countries in November was 44.6 million, 1.8 million less than in November 2010 but 13.8 million more than in November 2007, SITA wrote.

Jobless rate rises in all regions

The unemployment rate rose in all of Slovakia’s eight regions, with Nitra Region recording the largest increase of 0.35 percentage points to hit 13.27 percent and Bratislava Region recording the smallest increase, up 0.02 percentage points to a rate of 5.41 percent.

“Though Bratislava Region has the lowest [current] unemployment rate, it is already higher than the unemployment rate was in Trenčín, Trnava and Žilina regions just before the start of the economic crisis in August 2008,” Sadovská noted, adding that Banská Bystrica Region continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the country, approaching 20 percent.

Economic distress in Hungary is also leading to large-scale layoffs there and that is having a negative impact on the jobless rate in some parts of southern Slovakia. Some residents of Komárno are expecting to lose their jobs as a Hungarian company, Za-Co, announced the dismissal of 282 employees by the end of January: 175 of those workers are Slovak citizens, the SITA newswire reported.

“In our region we feel that Hungary is in economic crisis. It is possible to expect more layoffs to come,” said Gabriella Nagy, the head of the Komárno labour office, as quoted by SITA. Nagy added that the unemployment rate reached 17.53 percent in the Komárno district at the end of December, a total of 9,805 persons without jobs, almost one in every six in the district’s labour force, SITA wrote.

“If the dismissed Slovak workers are not able to find a job in another company in Hungary, finding one in Slovakia will be even more difficult,” Sadovská of Poštová Banka commented.

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