If you have visited Austrian gas stations recently, you may have noticed Hungarians speaking somewhere. Maybe, if you were in a restaurant or hotel in Vienna, you could have heard a hard Hungarian accent from catering staff. That is not so strange at all, considering that Hungarian workers are settling down more and more in the Western neighbour of Hungary.
In September, Mihály Varga, the Minister of Finance, claimed that Hungarians were finally coming home to their country, from the hard work abroad. Unfortunately, the newest Austrian statistics does not share this opinion, as the number of people working at our Western neighbour has never been this high. Furthermore, today, Hungarians are the second biggest group of migrants in the Austrian labour market, reports g7.hu, based on the Austrian Statistical Office’s information. In 2018, there were already 92 thousand Hungarians working there; only Germans hit a higher number with 102 thousand employees. If these trends continue until 2021, there will be more Hungarian workers than Germans.
According to the Hungarian government, Austria is a migrant country: 20 per cent of all those employed were foreigners in 2018, which is an enormous increase compared to 13 per cent in 2009. This means, in reality, that Austria’s population is continuously increasing due to migration, but Hungary’s population is decreasing due to emigration. The most employees by nations (in 2018) are Germans, with 102 thousand, Hungarians, with 92 thousand, Turkish, with 58 thousand, Romanians and ex-Yugoslavian countries with 56 thousand both, then Bosnians with 46 thousand and Polish with 40 thousand. Looking at our neighbours, there are much fewer employees in Austrian workplaces from Slovakia (35 thousand) and the Czech Republic (16 thousand); that in itself is a big criticism about the Hungarian labour market.
The number of Hungarians working at the Western neighbour increased 3.5 times between 2010 and 2018. Each year, there is at least a 6-7 thousand growth in Hungarian employee numbers.
2.5% of the Austrian labour market consists of Hungarian workers. In percentages, the most populated Austrian states by Hungarians are Burgenland (2.2% is Hungarian) and Vienna (1.2%). In numbers, around 22,000 Hungarians live in Vienna, 12,000 in Lower Austria and 10,000 in Upper Austria.
For Hungarian employees, the most significant advantage of Austrian jobs is the fact that you do not necessarily have to move to Austria permanently; you can commute every day across the borders, or you can live there temporarily (usually on weekdays). This relates best to those working in Burgenland or near Vienna.
In 2018, everyday Hungarian commuters were 44%, recently, in 2019, it seems to be 42%.
Looking at the different professions, we can easily see that the majority of Hungarians work in hotels (~11,500 people), catering (~9000), and other popular Austrian jobs include being a truck driver or working in a cleaning service, the building industry, at petrol stations or in the meat processing business. In fact, every third gas station assistant in Austria is Hungarian; 846 Hungarians work there, at 2685 gas stations in total.