Meelis Paavel, chairman of the board at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) said there should be some 13,000 vacancies in Estonia currently, but according to employers, unemployed people do not accept the openings.
As of Thursday morning, there are 54,800 people on registered unemployment. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, there are 21,000 more people out of a job than before the coronavirus hit.
Meelis Paavel says the situation is much better than forecasts just a year ago showed. The main growth of unemployment happened in the summer period of 2020, the highest mark was 57,000 this April, however.
"From the start of April to now, registered unemployment has fallen some 4 percent," Paavel said.
Jobs have not run out in Estonia. Accommodation and catering establishments, that have always been seasonal employers, might not be as active this summer due to the lack of foreign tourists, but most are still hoping for stable domestic tourism.
As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,300 customer service job offerings and nearly 600 offers in catering on the CV Keskus portal. There were far fewer in tourism and hotels, around 100 ads.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund has some 6,000 jobs on offer. The number was around 7,800 at the same period last year. Paavel compared the situation to the economic recession in 2008, where the number of job offers decreased to 2,500.
"If we look at it statistically, the Unemployment Insurance Fund mediates nearly 40 percent of all job offers, so there should be 12,000-13,000 vacancies in Estonia," Paavel said.
The fund will continue paying out wage compensation to the most damaged sectors throughout May. Estonian Employers' Confederation chairman Arto Aas said that in a situation with as many vacancies, the distribution of any support measures should be carefully considered.
"The actual situation on the job market is that there are thousands of vacancies, but people are not accepting them. They are either very selective or do not actually want to work before they have used up all available benefits," Aas said.
He added that there are sectors that were not affected by the crisis but still need helping hands. "Realistically, contests are ongoing, there are vacancies, but people are not coming. Even last year, when the crisis was far deeper, we heard a lot of 'I'm enjoying the summer, benefits are trickling in,'" Aas said.
At the same time, the Unemployment Insurance Fund's reserves have decreased significantly during the crisis. "In the end of 2019, the Unemployment Insurance Fund's net assets were nearly €840 million, it was a little over €500 million at the end of 2020. And when our activities this year are done, it will decrease by another €100 million, down to €412 million. Which means that we have ensured two years of expenditure from unemployment insurance resources," Meelis Paavel said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste