Employment high, but badly distributed, say trade unions

Though Estonia is about to beat Sweden in terms of employment, well ahead of Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania, jobs are distributed unevenly. More remote areas continue to struggle. Source: ERR

Employment is currently high in Estonia, with 72% of 15-74-year-olds employed. According to the Bank of Estonia, that number is expected to increase to 73% next year. At the same time, this doesn't mean that everyone who wants to work is able to find a job, Peep Peterson of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation told ERR.

Estonia's current situation is close to full employment, with 72% of Estonian residents of working age actually employed. If the Bank of Estonia's forecasts should turn out to be accurate, employment will increase further to 73% in 2019 and 2020, at which point Estonia would surpass Sweden in terms of this important economic statistic.

According to the central bank's vice president, Ülo Kaasik, not a lot of resources are left. "The current pressure will continue, as given the current state of the economy companies are rather looking to hire more people," Kaasik said on Tuesday.

Though he also sees a divide between the skill sets required by businesses, and those actually available on Estonia's labour market. Should there be negative economic developments, this would likely be felt, Kaasik added.

The Estonian Employers' Confederation estimates that there are still some 12-13,000 jobs available, for many of which talent from abroad would have to be hired, though this has recently slowed down, analyst at the confederation, Raul Aron, told ERR on Tuesday.

"Thankfully the government has made it easier to include top-level specialists, but forecasts expect the number of short-term employees from abroad to triple this year, which shows that the demand for labour is indeed very high," Aron said.

The positive statistics don't necessarily mean that everybody who wants work is able to get a job, chairman of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation, Peep Peterson cautions.

"The problem is that the Bank of Estonia also forecasts 8% percent unemployment for next year, which is pretty high. If we also consider that in Tartu and Harju County unemployment is lower, this means that somewhere in the country people are in dire straits. Estonia still needs more jobs, especially in Ida-Viru County, on Saaremaa, and in South Estonia," Peterson pointed out.

Peterson added that an additional issue is that the Unemployment Insurance Fund currently mostly offers jobs close to the minimum salary, which is an income level few are ready to settle for these days.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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