Unemployment drops to 8.8 pct

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The Czech unemployment rate decreased to 8.8 percent in April from 9.1 percent in March. In April 2001, unemployment stood at 8.3 percent. The development is in line with expectations of economic analysts.

The Czech unemployment rate decreased to 8.8 percent in April from 9.1 percent in March. In April 2001, unemployment stood at 8.3 percent. The development is in line with expectations of economic analysts. Labour offices around the country currently register more than nine applicants for one vacancy.

The lowest unemployment rate remains in Prague and surrounding regions - around 3 percent, the highest percentage of unemployed is registered in the northern region of Most - over 21 percent. The Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla says that the April decline in unemployment proves that the government has managed to deal successfully with the mass redundancies which have accompanyied the restructuring of heavy industry. Spidla mentioned specifically the Ostrava region in northern Moravia, which used to be called the "smithy of socialism" during the Communist era. Since the fall of communism, the number of jobs in the local steel industry has fallen from 160,000 to 47,000 and a further reduction to 20,000 is expected without a drastic impact on the level of unemployment.