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Hungarian Q1 jobless rate 7.5%

Hungary’s unemployment rate rose in the first three months of 2007, data released by the Central Statistics Office (KSH), Thursday show.

The three-month moving average jobless rate was 7.5% in January-March, up from 7.4% in December-February but down from 7.7% in the corresponding period a year earlier. The rise in the unemployment rate was somewhat lower than expected. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a jobless rate of 7.6% on average for the first quarter of this year. Except for the December-March 2006 period, the three-month moving average rate has hovered somewhat above the 7% mark since January-March 2005.

The number of people out of work totaled 316,300 in the January-March period, up a marginal 4,000 from December-February and down an also small number, 7,300, from a year earlier. The unemployment rate was a high 18.1% in January-March among the 15 to 24 year olds, who account for only 18.5% of all unemployed. The 18.1% rate was down from the 19.0% recorded for that age group a year earlier. The proportion of long-term unemployed, defined as people out of work for a year or longer, was 48.8%. The average duration of unemployment was 17.4 months.

The number of those in employment increased 20,200 in January-March from a year earlier to 3.91 million. That’s 20,700 down, however, from the December-February period. The number of Hungarians not active in the economy totaled 3.5 million in the period, down 14,500 from a year earlier but up 16,100 from December-February. The employment rate in the 15- to 64-year old age group, which is used in international comparisons, was 56.9%, up from 56.7% a year earlier. Also in that age group, 61.6% were present on average in the labor market in the period.

The figures are calculated in line with International Labor Organization methods. Hungarian unemployment had been persistently lower than unemployment in the European Union but it has recently caught up with that of the E.U. and even exceeded it. The EU’s unemployment rate for those registered unemployed was 7.7% and the EU-15 jobless rate was 7.2% in January and February, while Hungary’s unemployment rate rose to 8.5% in February from 8.2% in January, the KSH said. (