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Jobless rate down slightly at 3.5%

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Hungaryʼs three-month rolling average jobless rate reached 3.5% in February-April, edging down from 3.6% in the previous three-month period, and down from 3.8% twelve months earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) reported on Wednesday.

In the period February–April, the average number of unemployed people aged 15-74 was 162,400, some 3,300 fewer than in the previous three-month period and down 14,600 from a year earlier. Among men, unemployment stagnated, but the indicators for women improved.

The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group stood at 10.8%, accounting for more than one-fifth of all jobless. The unemployment rate in the 25-54 age group - i.e. persons belonging to the "best working age" - was 3.1%, while among those aged 55-74 it was 2.2%.

Out-of-work Hungarians spent about 14.0 months on average looking for a job during the period, with 36.8% of the unemployed seeking work for one year or longer.

At the end of April 2019, compared to a year earlier, administrative data of the National Employment Service (NFSz) show that the total number of registered job seekers increased by 1.4% to 262,000.

46,700 more people in work

Meanwhile, employment data also released by the KSH show that the total number of employed people in February-April stood at 4,491,600 among those aged 15-74, some 46,700 - or 1.1% - more than in the corresponding period a year earlier.

The employment rate among people in the narrower age band of 15–64 years increased to 69.8%, up 0.9 of a percentage point.

The number of employed included 117,500 Hungarians in fostered work programs and 115,400 working abroad. The number of those employed on the domestic primary labor market rose 1.6% from a year earlier, while the number of fostered workers dropped 25.5%. The number of those working abroad was up 18.8%.

Employment remained practically unchanged among young people aged 15–24, with an employment rate of 28.0%. In the "best working age," i.e. the 25–54 age group, the employment rate rose slightly to 84.3%, while in the older, 55–64 age group, employment grew by 2.8 percentage points to 56.1%.

The employment rate of people aged 20–64 – the coverage regarding the development of employment objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy – grew by 1.0 percentage point to 74.9%. The European Union has set a target of 75% by 2020; in Hungary, the employment rate in this age group is currently 83.0% for men, and 67.0% for women.

Little room for improvement

ING Bank senior analyst Péter Virovácz told state news agency MTI that the jobless rate could average 3.6% for the year, while noting that he does not expect the rate of employment to dramatically improve as the number of potential workers waiting to enter the labor market is low.

TakarékBank analyst András Hont said that, based on foreign comparisons, even as the employment rate could rise by about 4 percentage points, actual employment growth should slow. The available workforce is unskilled, of rather low quality, and difficult to employ, he observed.

Erste Bank macroeconomic analyst Zsombor Varga concurred that labor market conditions continue to be tight, meaning that employment can only improve slowly, if at all.

Unemployment and employment data for the next three-month period of March–May will be published on June 27.

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