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Hungary jobless rate slightly up yr/yr at 11.2% in Nov-Jan

The average unemployment rate in Hungary was 11.2% in the 15-74 age group in November-January, rising from 10.7% in October-December, and slightly up from 11.1% a year earlier, data published by the Central Statistics Office (KSH) on Tuesday show. There were 486,400 unemployed, on average, in November-January, including 90,200 in the 15-24 age group. The overall number was up 18,100 from October-December and rose 11,600 from the same period a year earlier. The rate of employment averaged 50.4% in the 15-74 age group in November-January, down 0.7 percentage points from the previous three-month period, but up from 49.8% in the same three months a year earlier. The number of employed in the age group came to 3,854,900 during the period, down 53,600 from the previous three months and up 39,000 yr/yr. KSH attributed the sharp drop from October-December to the usual low number of those employed on public work schemes in January. The yr/yr rise in employment, too, reflected primarily the rise in the number of fostered workers. The change in their number has been the main factor moving employment. The employment rate for the 15-64 age group was 57.1% in November-January, down 0.7 percentage points from October-December 2012 but climbing from 56.0% in the same period a year earlier. In absolute terms, there were 3,821,600 people between the ages of 15 and 64 employed in Hungary during the period, 52,300 less than in October-December and up 37,800 from a year earlier. The rate of "economically active" people - those looking for work as well as those employed - was 56.8% in the 15-74 age group, down from 57.2% in Q4 last year but up from 56.0% a year earlier. The activity rate was 64.3% in the 15-64 age group in November-January, down from 64.8% from the average of the previous three months but rising from 63.1% one year earlier. ING Bank analyst Dávid Németh said the data gave no reason for surprise, adding that the labour market was not expected to improve significantly this year. He expected the unemployment rate to fall to 10.3% by the summer but remain around 11% for the whole year in the absence of economic growth. Gergely Suppan of Magyar Takarékszövetkezeti Bank said the unemployment rate rose slightly more than expected between October-December and November-January. He projected the unemployment rate could reach as high as 11.8% early this year, before falling to 10.3% by the end of summer. He put the full-year average at 10.8%, down slightly from 10.9% in 2012.