Survey suggests brighter employment outlook in Czech Republic

A government survey released on Tuesday suggested the Czech Republic's ailing labour market could be making a dramatic recovery. The number of employed Czechs rose to nearly 4.8 million in the second quarter of 2002, up almost 40,000 from the first quarter, according to the Czech Statistics Office (CSU) survey of random households. At the same time, the survey found that unemployment had fallen to 360,000.

Unemployment fell among women, workers under 45 years, and those jobless for one year or more. The central part of the country, home to a growing auto industry, saw the largest jump in employment, the survey said.

The survey also found that an increasing number of Czechs are accepting shift-work and jobs that require work on Saturdays, Sundays or nights. Some 43 per cent of the respondents said they worked at least some evenings.

Although the official Ministry of Labour unemployment rate for June was 8.7 per cent - slightly higher than in May - the CSU survey estimated the quarterly jobless rate at around 7 per cent. The gap stems from different data-gathering methods. Unlike the ministry, the CSU counts anyone who expects to get work within two weeks as employed.

Joblessness has clouded many regions of the Czech Republic for years due to the gradual shutdown of coal mines, outdated steel mills and inefficient factories formerly run by the state.