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Monday, April 28, 2008

Hungary Unemployment Q1 2008

Hungary's unemployment rate for the 15 to 64 population was 8.0% during the January-March 2008 period, down slightly from the 8.1% rehitsred in December 2007 -February 2008 period, the Central Statistics Office (KSH) reported this morning. The unemployment rate for the 15 to 74 age group remained unchanged at 8.0%.

What we have here is a slight paradox, since unemployment is actually falling at the same time as the number of those in employment is also falling.

The KSH said the number of unemployed was 332,400 and the number of employed 3,817,400 in the first quarter (all figures for the 15 to 64 age group). This latter figure compares with 3,826,100 in the Dec 07-Feb 08 period and 3,876,800 in the same period of 2007. The number of unemployed was by 4,200 from the previous 3-m period but was up by 16,400 from the same period of 2007. As we can see total employment has now been falling since the summer of 2007, and momentum has been weakening since the high point of mid 2006.

The solution to our enigma is undoubtedly the declining numbers in the economically active population and the decline in participation rates (undoubtedly aided by the high numbers of early retirees which has accompanied the downsizing of the state sector). The economically active population was 4.150 million in Q1, down from the 4.163 million recorded in Dec-Feb and well down (by 43,000) from the 4.193 million of Q1 2007

The labour market activity of the population aged 15-64 was 56.1% in Q1, down from the 56.3% registered in the previous three-month period, and also down 0.6 ppts from the same period a year earlier. The employment rate of the population aged 15-64 was 56.1% in Q1, against 56.3% in the previous 3-m period and down by 0.8ppt from the 56.9% registered in Q1 of 2007. That is things are going in decidedly the wrong direction here.

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