In November 2017–January 2018, the rolling three-month average number of unemployed people in Hungary was 174,000, some 24,000 fewer than a year earlier, as the jobless rate decreased by 0.5 of a percentage point year-on-year to 3.8%, according to data released by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) on Tuesday.
In November-January, compared to the equivalent three-month period one year earlier, the number of unemployed men aged 15–74 decreased by 27,000 to 84,000, and their jobless rate by 1.1 percentage points to 3.3%. Among women, the number of unemployed rose slightly to 90,000, and their jobless rate to 4.3%.
The rate of unemployment among those in the 15–24 age group fell 0.5 of a percentage point to 10.6%, although one-fifth of the total unemployed still belonged to this age group. The jobless rate in the 25–54 age group - i.e. persons belonging to the "best working age" - decreased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 3.4%, while the rate among those aged 55–74 fell 1.5 percentage points to 2.4%.
The average duration of unemployment decreased to 15.0 months; some 38.3% of unemployed people had been searching for a job for one year or more, i.e. were long-term unemployed.
As of the end of January 2018, compared to a year earlier, the total number of registered job seekers decreased by 7.3% to 267,000, according to administrative data from the National Employment Service (NFSz).
Data on employment released, as usual, in parallel with jobless figures show that in the period of November 2017–January 2018, the average number of employed people was 4,436,000, some 35,000 - or 0.8% - more than a year earlier.
The increase in those employed in the domestic primary labor market was 87,000 (up 2.1%), while the number of people declaring work in public employment programs (fostered workers) decreased by 33,000, and the number of those working at local units abroad fell 19,000, respective decreases of 15.8% and 16.1%.
The employment rate among people aged 15–64 grew by 1.2 percentage points to 68.7%. The number of employed men aged 15–64 increased by 1.8%, and their employment rate by 2.1 percentage points to 75.9%. Among women aged 15–64, the rate of employment – due to demographic changes, the KSH noted – grew by 0.4 of a percentage point to 61.5%.
Among young people aged 15–24 years, the rate of employment fell slightly to 28.5%. The number of employed people increased in both the "best working age" group of 25–54 and in the older, 55–64 age group, with the employment rate rising by 0.9 of a percentage point to 83.8% in the former, and by 2.6 percentage points to 53.4% in the latter age group.
The employment rate among people aged 20–64 – the coverage regarding the development of employment objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy – grew by 1.3 percentage points to 73.8%. The European Union has targeted raising the average employment rate to 75% by 2020; in Hungary, the employment rate in this age group is currently 81.8% for men, but still only 66.0% for women.
Commenting on the data on state television news channel M1, Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga said they show that more fostered workers are finding work on the primary labor market and that more Hungarians working abroad are returning home, drawn back by higher wages.
ING Bankʼs chief analyst Péter Virovácz told state news agency MTI that Hungaryʼs labor market is close to reaching effective full employment. He forecast the year-end jobless rate at around 3.6%.
Gergely Ürmössy, senior analyst at Erste Bank, said there is still room for improvement on the labor market, noting that the number of economically inactive Hungarians still stands at over 2.8 million.
The KSH will publish unemployment and employment data for the next three-month period of December 2017–February 2018 on March 28.