Czech unemployment falls to lowest rate since March 2009

Photo: archive of Czech Government

Unemployment in the Czech Republic is at its lowest level since March 2009. According to freshly released figures from the country’s Labour Office, 6.0 percent of the workforce was jobless in September, down 0.2 percent on the previous month. Meanwhile, the number of jobs available last month was the highest since just after the start of the economic crisis. I discussed the figures with economist Daniel Munich – who explained that the situation is more nuanced than it may initially appear.

Photo: archive of Czech Government
“The economy is growing, probably fast, economic conditions are getting better are a longer period of stagnation – so no wonder the pool of unemployed is shrinking and the number of vacant places is growing.”

Is the fact that salary increases are lagging behind increases in profits a factor here?

“It seems so. But I would be careful about making some final evaluation of that.

“Because while unemployment is very quickly registered and we know the numbers a few days after they were collected, information about wages and about economic growth come with a much longer delay. So I would be careful.”

How does unemployment in the Czech Republic compare to in other European states?

Daniel Munich,  photo: Šárka Ševčíková
“This is an interesting issue, because it depends which indicator you use. If you use the labour force survey indicator, the Czech Republic shows the second lowest rate within the European Union [after Germany].

“But if you look at registered unemployment, unemployment is notably higher, by three percentage points. It’s a huge difference, though 8 percent unemployment is still rather low by European standards.

“This discrepancy between the two numbers suggests that a non-negligible part of the registered unemployed are probably unofficially working.”

Unemployment now is at its lowest point since 2009 in the Czech Republic. Do you think we can expect a further decline?

“Again, I have to be careful. It depends which indicator you use [laughs]. You are now talking about the labour force survey and you are right.

“I think this indicator may go even below current levels, but not much, because it’s getting close to the natural rate of unemployment, while I expect a continued decrease in the registered unemployment rate – which is still notably higher than it was in 2008, before the crisis.”

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Which figures do you trust the most? You’re talking about different indicators.

“It’s not about trust, it’s about what the indicator measures. I already noted that part of the registered unemployment is very likely representing people who are simultaneously unemployed – to get either unemployment benefits or public insurance – and unofficially work on their own or in jobs where they don’t need official registration.”