Hungary’s three-month rolling average jobless rate reached 3.4% in June-August, unchanged from the previous three-month period and down from 3.7% twelve months earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said. The rate covers unemployment among those between the ages of 15 and 74. In absolute terms, there were 156,900 unemployed, 1,000 fewer than in the previous period and down 16,200 from a year earlier. The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group stood at 10.3%. The unemployed in this age group account for more than one-fifth of all jobless, KSH noted. The unemployment rate in the 25-54 age group was down at 2.9%, and the rate in the 55-74 age group was at 2.5%.
Out-of-work Hungarians spent about 14.1 months on average looking for employment during the period, and 37.4% of the unemployed had been seeking work for one year or longer. The number of employed stood at 4,517,500 among 15- to 74-year-olds, 33,900 or 0.8% more than in the same period a year earlier. The employment rate was 60.9%, up 0.6 percentage point. The number of employed included 107,800 Hungarians in fostered work programmes and 118,800 working abroad. The number of those employed on the domestic primary labour market rose 1.4% from a year earlier to 4,290,900, while the number of fostered workers dropped 27.6%. The number of those working abroad was up 13.3%. KSH defines “employed” in line with International Labour Organisation standards as anybody who worked one or more hour a week or was temporarily absent from their job during the survey week. The data also include those employed in public work schemes and those working abroad for less than one year.
Commenting on the data, the finance ministry said the rate of employment was at its highest point since Hungary’s democratic transition in 1989-90. The Hungarian economy still has labour reserves of about 500,000, the ministry said in a statement, adding that government’s job creation scheme could help push those people back into the workforce. Thanks to measures implemented by the government and job growth stemming from economic expansion, unemployment has been falling for seven consecutive years now, the ministry said. Parallel to the constant fall in the number of fostered workers, private sector employment is rising, the statement said, noting that the primary labour market has added more than 700,000 jobs since 2010.
Analysts interviewed by MTI said employment probably reached its peak and further expansion is hindered by workforce shortage and uncertainties in the global market environment. ING Bank analyst Péter Virovácz said he expected the jobless rate to remain unchanged in the next 12-18 months thanks to domestic demand and favourable cost levels at exporting companies. András Horváth of Takarékbank said data from the most competitive EU member states suggest employment in Hungary could be increased by at least 4 percentage points, which would require creating another 250,000-300,000 jobs. However, as the available workforce is unqualified, further expansion can only be expected from training programmes, he added.