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Hungary jobless rate up at 11.5% in December-February

Hungary's average unemployment rate was 11.5% in the 15-74 age group in December 2010-February 2011, up from 11.2% in November-January, and up from 11.4% in the same period a year earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Tuesday.

This was the second highest rate since January-March 2007, when the moving average methodology was introduced, and the highest since January-March and February-April last year when the rate was 11.8% in both periods.

Analysts expected an unchanged 11.2% from December-February, with unemployment dropping to its lowest annual level around 10.5% in the summer months.

The number of unemployed in the age group totalled 489,000 in December-February, rising from 474,000 on average in the previous three months and 478,700 one year ago.

The jobless rate rose for the third consecutive period since January-March last year.

The unemployment rate bottomed out at 7.5% in the summer of 2008 and rose to peak at 11.8% in the first months of 2010. The drop which followed slowed since May-July, to go up again after September-November last year.

The jobless rate for the 15-64 age group was 11.6% in December-February, up from also 11.2% in November-January, and up from 11.5% from a year ago. The rate for this age group peaked at 11.9% in Q1 2010 and after falling to 10.8% in September-November, started to increase again in October-December last year.

The employment rate in the 15-64 age group was 54.8% in December-February, compared to 55.3% in the preceding period, but better than the 54.6% a year ago. The number of employed people in this age group fell to 3.73 million from 3.745m in November-January, mainly due to seasonal factors, KSH said. It was 3.695 million a year ago.

The growth of both unemployment and employment compared to one year ago reflects the fact that more and more people are registering as job seekers but some of them don't find positions, KSH said. Of all unemployed, 52% have been chasing jobs since one year or more. The average period of unemployment is 18.3 months, two months more than one year ago, KSH observed.

Average unemployment in 2010 was 11.2%, up 1.2 percentage points from 2009.