Hungary’s rolling average three-month jobless rate reached 3.8 percent in October-December, unchanged from the previous three-month period, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Tuesday.

The October-December rate fell from 4.4 percent in the same period a year earlier.

The rate covers unemployment among Hungarians between the ages of 15 and 74.

In absolute terms, the jobless number averaged 175,200 in October-December, down 2,300 from September-November and 29,800 fewer than in the same period a year earlier.

The number of employed went up by an annual 0.8 percent to 4,447,000 during the period, KSH said.

Commenting on the data, Péter Cseresnyés, state secretary of the economy ministry, noted that Hungary’s jobless rate had stood at 11.6 percent before the current government took power in 2010. Today more than 700,000 people have a job compared with seven years ago, 574,000 of whom have found employment in the private sector, he told public news channel M1.

He attributed the increase in employment figure to Hungary’s economic growth, the government’s centrally funded job protection scheme and EU funded youth employment guarantee scheme.

In connection with youth employment, Cseresnyés noted that while its rate had stood well below 20 percent in 2010, this had since gone up to close to 30 percent by the end of last year. Their unemployment rate, at the same time, dropped from close to 30 percent to 10.2 percent during the seven-year period, he added.

The economy ministry noted in a statement that Hungary’s unemployment had continued to drop over the past 66 months to a record low rate of 3.8 percent in October-December last year.

Employment-boosting reforms including payroll tax cuts, economic development schemes and a substantial increase in minimum wages were largely responsible, it added.

ING Bank chief analyst Péter Virovácz said the tight labour supply would leave little room for further improvement in the unemployment rate this year. He forecast a 0.3 percentage point drop by year-end.

Erste Bank senior analyst Gergely Ürmössy said the jobless rate was likely to fall to around 3.9 percent this year from 4.2 percent in 2017 as the economy reaches full employment.

Source: MTI

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