Unemployment rate unchanged in February, expected to resume going down
In February 2011 the unemployment remained unchanged at 14.5% and that indicates, for now, that the January increase by 0.2 percentage points was a one-time occurrence. Moreover, the number of first-time registrations at the State Employment agency (NVA) this year was lower than in January 2009 and January 2010, indicating that layoffs are becoming less frequent. The number of those who have lost their unemployed status is gradually dropping and that is what determines the persistence of the unemployment rate.
At the same time, the percentage of groups particularly vulnerable to unemployment risk is on the rise. E.g., over the last year the proportions of long-time unemployed, pre-retirement-age unemployed and disabled unemployed all increased (in January 2011 respectively 38.3%, 10.5% and 5.8% of all unemployed registered with NVA). Thus, although the chances of finding work are gradually increasing, the number of registered unemployed who have found employment is about the same as at the beginning of 2010 (4 thousand), which is an indication that a significant part of the unemployed have skills that are not adequate to meet the demand of the labour market.
It is expected that seasonal factors will come into play in spring to bring back the trend of gradually dropping unemployment. This however does not preclude the possibility of rising unemployment rate in some months as a result of one-off factors.