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Unemployment rate rises faster than expected

Hungary's average unemployment rate rose faster than expected in December-February, but the rise in the number of employed was a positive surprise, analysts told MTI on Thursday.

The unemployment rate edged up one-tenth of percentage point to 11.6% in December-February from the same period a year earlier, the Central Statistics Office (KSH) said in the morning. The number of employed climbed 51,000 during the period.

Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank said the unemployment rate accelerated faster than expected in December-February, but he said a rise in the number of employed in a year-on-year comparison was a positive surprise. He said employment could rise in the spring as seasonal labor picks up, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10.5-10.6% in the summer.

Erste Bank's Zoltán Árokszállási also said the unemployment rate was higher than expected. He suggested the increase may have come as employers unable to meet new minimum wage requirements let their lowest earners go.

Árokszállási said the increase in the number of employed was a positive development.

He said the unemployment rate was likely to drop under 11% in the summer or early autumn.