Jobless rate down to 3.4%; employment hits EU 2020 target

EU

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Hungaryʼs rolling three-month average jobless rate reached 3.4% in March-May, edging down from 3.5% in the previous three-month period, and down from 3.6% twelve months earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Thursday.   

The rate covers unemployment among those aged between 15 and 74. In absolute terms, there were 160,400 jobless, some 2,000 fewer than in the previous period, and down 10,300 from a year earlier.

The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group stood at 11.1%, up 2.4 percentage points compared to the base period. The unemployed in this age group account for more than one-fifth of all jobless.

The unemployment rate in the 25-54 age group - i.e. belonging to the "best working age" - was down o.5 of a percentage point at 3.0%, while the rate in the 55-74 age group dropped slightly to 2.3%.

The unemployment rate among men aged 15–74 was 3.5% in March-May, while among women, the jobless rate was 3.3%.

Out-of-work Hungarians spent 13.9 months on average looking for employment during the period; 36.7% of the jobless had been seeking work for a year or longer, i.e. were long-term unemployed.

Responding to the data, analyst Péter Virovácz of ING Bank told state news wire MTI that while unemployment is at a new low, the pace has been slowing mainly because the pool of potential untapped labor has shrunk. Joblessness for 2019 could average 3.6%, he added.

Employment up 1% year-on-year

Employment data also released by the KSH today show that the number of employed people in Hungary aged 15-74 stood at 4,500,400 in March-May, some 43,300 or 1.0% more than in the corresponding period of 2018.

The employment rate among people aged 15–64 - accounting for the overwhelming majority of those in work - rose 0.8 of a percentage point to 69.9%. The rate of employment among men aged 15–64 was 77.2%, while womenʼs employment rate stood at 62.6%.

The number of those employed on the domestic primary labor market rose 2.0% from a year earlier to 4,271,200, while the number of fostered workers dropped 29.7% to 113,600. The number of those working abroad was up 7.0% to 115,500.

The employment rate among young people aged 15–24 was down slightly to 27.8%. In the "best working age" of 25–54 years, the employment rate rose marginally to 84.5%, while in the older, 55–64 age group, the employment rate grew by 2.6 percentage points to 56.1%.

The employment rate of people aged 20–64 – the coverage regarding the development of employment objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy – grew by 0.8 of a percentage point to 75.0%, which is exactly the European Union’s target for 2020. In Hungary, the employment rate in this age group is currently 83.0% for men, and 67.2% for women.

K&H Bank chief analyst Dávid Németh told MTI that the Hungarian economy has essentially reached full employment. Further gains can only be made if structural changes, through training programs for inactive workers, are pushed through and part-time employment given more room.

András Horváth of TakarékBank observed that the quality of untapped labor is proving a barrier to improving both employment and unemployment figures.

Unemployment and employment data for the next three-month period of April–June 2019 will be published on July 29.

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