Labour market data stronger than expected


  • In Q1 2016, employment increased due to a higher number of part-time workers.
  • Unemployment rate was slightly smaller than one year ago.
  • We still expect unemployment rate to grow and employment to decline a bit in 2016.

First quarter’s labour market data turned out better than expected. Employment grew further and unemployment rate slightly decreased, year on year. The number of unemployed stayed around the same level as in the first quarter of 2015 but unemployment rate declined slightly to 6.5% (6.6% in Q1 2015).

The number of employed grew by 1.1% compared with the first quarter of last year. Employment increased among the part-time wage-earners in the services sector. The number of full-time employees decreased. Employment in agriculture decreased. Substantially lower output prices and the African swine fever have resulted in substantially lower production volumes in this sector.

Today’s labour market data published by Statistics Estonia differs from earlier data released by the Unemployment Insurance Fund or the Tax and Customs Board. According to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, registered unemployment rate exceeded last year’s level by 0.2 pp in the first four months of 2016. Tax revenues’ data show that the number of wage earners decreased for the 8th month in March.

In 2016, employment is expected to fall by 0.2% because of a lower supply (a shrinking working-age population) and demand of labour (weak export demand, investments in machinery). A state reform will reduce the number employed in the public sector. A cutback in the number of public workers and the reorganisation of the social benefits system for the disabled (forcing them to find jobs) will lift the number of unemployed, at least temporarily. We expect the unemployment rate of Estonia to grow from 6.2% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2016.

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