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Slovak unemployment rate rises to almost 15 percent

The unemployment rate in Slovakia rose 0.36 percentage points percent month-on-month to reach 14.80 percent in January, according to data released Wednesday by the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Centre (ÚPSVaR). When compared to the figure in January 2012, the latest figure represents a year-on-year increase of 1.11 percentage points.

The unemployment rate in Slovakia rose 0.36 percentage points percent month-on-month to reach 14.80 percent in January, according to data released Wednesday by the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Centre (ÚPSVaR). When compared to the figure in January 2012, the latest figure represents a year-on-year increase of 1.11 percentage points.

Job centres throughout Slovakia in January recorded as many as 399,367 jobseekers available to take up a new job immediately, a rise of 9,256 people month-on-month and an increase of more than 29,400 jobseekers year-on-year. In total, there were 435,438 unemployed people registered at job centres, the TASR newswire reported, citing ÚPSVAR. This figure also included those who are not eligible to start work immediately.

In regional terms, Prešov Region recorded the highest unemployment rate of 20.92 percent, ahead of Banská Bystrica Region with 20.56 percent and Košice Region with 19.30 percent. In terms of districts, Rimavská Sobota and Revúca (both in Banská Bystrica Region) posted the worst figures, with 34.51 and 34.36 percent respectively. Conversely, the Bratislava I district had the lowest unemployment rate, 4.51 percent.

The opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) said that the high unemployment figures posted for January are a direct consequence of the ineffective economic policies of the governing Smer party. Ivan Štefanec, the party’s deputy chairman, said at a press conference on Wednesday that "[apart from scrapping the 19-percent flat tax], the government increased levies and fees [payroll deductions]. It ruined the legislative framework in the labour sphere [via the changes in the Labour Code in effect as of January 2013] and has made jobs excessively expensive." He added that the new labour laws "protect trade union functionaries at the expense of employees." He also stated that despite the claims of Finance Minister Peter Kažimír that the figures are caused by the macroeconomic conditions, unemployment rates are falling in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Great Britain and the Baltic countries.

Also responding to the situation earlier in the day, Labour Minister Ján Richter rejected such claims. He said the legislative changes in the Labour Code had nothing to do with the disastrous situation on the labour market in Slovakia; rather, he said, this was a direct result of lower demand among buyers of Slovak exports.

The Sme daily quoted economic analyst Ľubomír Koršňák as opining that the record unemployment rate of 14.8 percent has been caused by a combination of seasonal influences, crisis and government changes. The unemployment rate is now at its highest level since spring 2004, Sme added.

Sources: TASR, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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