Unemployment Drops to 8.5 Percent in 1st Quarter ({{commentsTotal}})

Working hard, or hardly working...
Working hard, or hardly working... Source: Photo: Pärnu Postimees/Scanpix

Estonia's jobless rate declined in the first quarter of this year, marking the first time since 2010 that the number of unemployed decreased on an annual basis.

The unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in the first quarter, down from 10 percent in the same period last year, according to a new report by Statistics Estonia on Thursday. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the jobless rate was 8.7 percent.

The total number of unemployed in the first quarter was 57,000, down 2,000 from the last quarter of 2013. It was also 11,000 less than in the same period last year.

The youth jobless rate, which is in the 15-24 age group, was 17.4 percent in the first quarter. Youth unemployment stood at roughly 10,000, compared to 14,000 a year ago.

Employment also declined in the first quarter to 606,000 persons. Statistics Estonia said the decline was mainly due to a diminishing working-age population and an increasing number of economically inactive persons.

The pace of decline in unemployment has slowed down in recent quarters, the report noted. The easing was attributed to the end of the decline in the long-term unemployment that was driving the jobless figure lower since mid-2011.

In the first quarter, unemployment for men remained the same as in the 4th quarter of 2013, at 9.4 percent. The number of unemployed women decreased by 2,000 to a 7.7 percent rate.