Unemployment highest since peak of Covid crisis, expected to rise further

Empty job offers board outside of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) office in Räpina. July 27, 2022.
Empty job offers board outside of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) office in Räpina. July 27, 2022. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Unemployment has risen to 8.1 percent nationwide, totaling around 53,000 jobless, the highest rate since the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, while the figure is expected to rise further in the first few months of this year, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.

Even between September and January, unemployment rose by 8,500, AK reported.

Chief of the  Estonian Employers' Confederation (Eesti Tööandjate Keskliit) Arto Aas sad: "Since there is currently a lot of uncertainty in the economy, and quite a lot of pessimism, entrepreneurs are not venturing to invest, or to recruit people."

"This means it is inevitable that this cooling of the economy has also been reaching the labor market, while unemployment will likely rise in the first quarter [of 2023] also," Aas went on.

Jaan-Hendrik Toomel, chairman of the  Estonian Trade Union Confederation (Ametiühingute Keskliit), said workplaces currently on offer concern either highly qualified positions, or unskilled labor, with less to choose from in between.

He said. "There are also more job offers relating to lower-paid, easier work, but it is harder for people to find a job in the middle segment today than it was in the summer, half a year ago."

Arto Aas said that industry is in a bad situation too: "Where there are also high energy costs. Here, we are also in a worse competitive situation compared with some neighboring countries."

This extended even to Estonia's high profile tech and startup sector.

"Trade is cautious since people are consuming less from certain product groups, due to inflation. Certainly, the heated labor boom has cooled down in the IT and start-up sectors too. Since there is less money, they are no longer recruiting as boldly as before," he said.

As for the next few months, the Estonian Employers' Confederation forecasts a further rise in unemployment.

By region, the situation remains worst in Ida-Viru County, traditionally heavy-industry based and focused on energy production.

Unemployment there is running at 11.8 percent, though Valga County, a predominantly rural area, is not far behind, with a rate of 11 percent, AK reported.

In Harju County, the most populous part of the country and which includes Tallinn, unemployment is at 7.8 percent, while in Tartu County, including the city of the same name, unemployment figures of 7 percent have been posted.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) received notification of 17 collective layoffs affecting 545 jobs, in December alone.

Shipping line Viking (184 jobs) and Majorel, a call center (167 jobs) between then accounted for more than half the total.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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