Jobseekers in Ida-Viru County are searching for work further away from home and the morning train from Narva to Tallinn is increasingly full of commuters, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Thursday.
Until now, residents of Ida-Viru County have preferred to find jobs closer to home compared to other Estonians. But in recent years, the situation has changed and they have begun to look for jobs further away from home, Anneki Teelahk, head of the Ida-Viru County Department of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa), told AK.
Currently, approximately 6,500 people are looking for work in Ida-Viru County, and most of them are middle-aged skilled workers. The county has the country's highest registered unemployment at 9.6 percent.
In recent years, there have been a succession of layoffs made at companies in Ida-Viru County which might be driving people to look for skilled jobs further from home.
Last year alone, the region's biggest employer, energy group Eesti Energia, laid of several hundred people, 500 of which registered as unemployed soon after. The clothing company Baltika, which moved production out of Estonia, laid off more than 200 people, and cable producer Amphenol Connexus also laid off more than 100 people. Narva wooden house manufacturer Modulehouse closed and around 90 people lost their jobs.
Even though the train from Narva to Tallinn takes slightly more than two hours each way, it is one of the means many people use to get to work and broadens their search area when looking for employment.
"If we've had more layoffs, people are looking at where the same or better pay can be found. Then they consider those options. There are different stories; each person's story is different. Many have said that it has given them the opportunity to learn Estonian," said Teelahk.
Teakahk said that it would be easier to get to work if the train from Narva to Tallinn took one hour, but this is still a dream. In 2017, the journey time was reduced by 25 minutes with an express train, and there are plans to make the route faster in the future. Two new express services were introduced in December between Narva and the capital.
AK spoke to train rider Anna, who previously lived in St. Petersburg, who said that two and a half hours to get to work is not a very long time. "I don't travel very often. Basically, if work is important to you, it is possible to start traveling at seven," she said.
Pavel, who also travels by train, thinks that commuting to work every day is an ordinary thing. "It's possible. Many are commuters. /.../ My daughter commutes," he said.
Elron CEO Merike Saks said that many people travel on the Narva route throughout the day, not just during peak hours. However, there are currently no new trains available for the route.
Last year, the average number of registered unemployed people was 32,000. Unemployment in Harju County stood at 4 percent, and was highest in Ida-Viru County at 9.2 percent. Valga County had the second highest unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.
Editor: Helen Wright