Budapest, January 3 (MTI) – The average unemployment rate among Hungarians between the ages of 15 and 74 was 9.3 percent in September-November, the lowest one in almost five years, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said today.

The rate was the lowest registered in the age group since a 9.1 percent ratio between December 2008 and February 2009.

The jobless ratio was down from 9.8 percent in August-October and from 10.6 percent in the same period a year earlier.

KSH also reported that the number of people working last autumn was just above 4 million, 2.2 percent up from a year earlier. The employment ratio of people between 15-64 increased by 1.5 percentage points to 59.6 percent.

Buda-Cash analyst Zoltan Reczey told MTI that the government’s public works scheme to facilitate employment to 200,000 people in the winter season had greatly contributed to the overall positive trend. He noted that the improvement was not so marked in the private sector. The analyst warned that public works programmes could provide a temporary solution, but participants should in the long run be offered opportunities to find jobs in the primary labour market.

Senior ING analyst Andras Balatoni also attributed the improvement to the winter public works programme. He added that labour demand in the private sector was also on the increase. Citing figures from the Labour Office, Balatoni said that employers had reported 146,000 subsidised new positions in November, over 10 times as many as in the same month in 2012, and 12,600 new jobs without central assistance, 47 percent up year-on-year.

The opposition Socialist Party, however, said that the government’s statistics were misleading. Socialist lawmaker Sandor Burany said in a statement that KSH’s employment figures were high because they included Hungarians working abroad, people employed in public works schemes, and even people in illegal employment. In fact, the number of those working is much lower and many more people are worse off than four years ago, Burany said. The lawmaker insisted that the number of positions in the private sector had decreased by tens of thousands since 2010.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party said people in public employment or those employed abroad included in the statistics “significantly distorted” both the employment and public-finance figures. Daniel Karpat, a lawmaker of the party, said public-works schemes failed to provide proper subsistence and employment should be boosted by small and medium-size companies, expanded farming and manufacturing.

Bernadett Szel, a lawmaker of the opposition LMP party, said the higher employment figures were not surprising in light of the winter public-works scheme. Although the statistics indicate 90,000 fewer registered unemployed compared with last year, the difference is not supported by “real jobs”, she said.

A spokesman of ruling Fidesz insisted that Hungary was doing better in creating jobs and fighting unemployment than before 2010. Peter Hoppal told a press conference that public-works schemes were just one of the factors contributing to higher employment figures. He said it was important in general that governments should provide jobs rather than unemployment benefits.



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