Hungary’s jobless rate drops to 4.5% in Jan-March

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Hungary’s jobless rate has further dropped by 1.5 percentage points to 4.5% in the January-March period, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to a first release of data by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) today. However, professionals argue the actual rate is higher as the government includes those on its public work scheme.

Overall, the ratio of 15–74 year-old unemployed men dropped by 1.6 percentage points to 4.4%, while that of women in the same age group fell by 1.4 percentage points to 4.7% in the first three months of the year. 

The unemployment rate of the 15–24 age group decreased by 3.9 percentage points to 10.3%, while the unemployment rate of the so-called “best working age” (25–54) fell by 1.2 percentage points to 4.3%.

The average duration of unemployment was 17.5 months; 45.1% of unemployed people had been searching for a job for one year or more, i.e. were classified as long-term unemployed, KSH reported.

The employment rate of people aged 15–64 increased to 67.1%, in the period, while the level of employment was higher among men than among women, and the rate of improvement was also higher among them.

While Hungary’s jobless rate has been on the decrease for some time, professionals argue that the actual numbers are higher, as those on the government’s public works scheme, often referred to  as “fostered workers”, who are employed by the government but paid less than minimum wage to work at jobs such as street sweepers or metro ticket takers, lowers the rate.

Minister for National Economy Mihaly Varga has recently announced that a government resolution would be published soon on transforming the fostered work program, and the number of people working in such employment will be reduced. The government says it aims to lead those workers back to the labor market.

At the same time, according to recent figures from the KSH, many Hungarians still choose to leave the country to live and work abroad. The majority of Hungarians leaving the country are from the younger generation; 45% are under the age of 30, while almost three-quarters are below the age of 40.

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