Estonia's unemployment fell in 2021

Statistics Estonia headquarters in Tallinn.
Statistics Estonia headquarters in Tallinn. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

There was a decrease in the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate last year in Estonia, data from Statistics Estonia shows.

In 2021, the labor force participation rate in Estonia was 71.1 percent, the employment rate was 66.7 percent, and the unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, data from Statistics Estonia shows.

Katriin Põlluäär, analyst at Statistics Estonia, said: "The number of unemployed persons had risen to 47,900 in 2020 but fell to 43,100 last year. In the last quarter of 2021, there were 36,300 unemployed persons, which is just 1,300 persons more than in the first quarter of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic."

There were 24,100 unemployed men and 18,900 unemployed women.

The unemployment rate was 4.7 percent among Estonians, 9.8 percent among Russians and 7.9 percent among persons of other nationalities.

The unemployment rate among the working-age population was the highest in North-Eastern Estonia, especially in Ida-Viru County. 

Põlluäär said that the duration of unemployment has increased compared to previous years.

"As before, the biggest share of unemployed persons are without work for a short time, i.e. less than six months. But in 2021 there was a decrease in the share of persons who were unemployed for up to 12 months, and an increase in the share of persons who had been unemployed for 12 months or more. In 2020, 17% of the unemployed had been without work for more than a year, whereas in 2021 they represented more than a fourth of the unemployed with nearly 11,600 persons," she explained.

Number of unemployed persons by duration and unemployment, 2015-2021 Source: Statistics Estonia

There were 650,500 employed persons, including 329,500 men and 321,000 women.

Compared to 2020, proportionally the number of employed persons increased the most in financial and insurance activities and in water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities.

Year on year, the share of employed persons fell the most in water transport and in crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities, but also in arts, entertainment and recreation.

"Based on occupation, there was a rise in the share of professionals and craft and related trades workers, but the share of managers decreased compared to 2020," added Põlluäär.

The employment rate remained the same as in 2020. Of the employed persons, 562,800 worked full-time and 87,700 worked part-time.

"A third of the persons working part-time were men and the rest were women. The number of underemployed persons, i.e. persons who work part-time but would like to work more and are available for additional work within two weeks, was 6,800, which is a few hundred persons less than the year before. Every sixth woman and every fourth man working part-time were underemployed," noted Põlluäär.

The labor force participation rate was 71.1 percent, falling by 0.5 percentage points compared to 2020. There were 282,300 inactive persons. The main reasons for inactivity were retirement, studies and illness or disability.

 "In 2021, there were 8,900 discouraged persons. This means that, compared to 2020, there were nearly two times more persons who have lost hope of finding work," added Põlluäär.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the labor force participation rate was 71.3 percent, the employment rate was 67.6 percent, and the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. The latter has continued the downward trend, as in the fourth quarter of 2020 the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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