Czech unemployment figures continued with the downward trend in August with a drop to 5.3 percent from July’s 5.4 percent.
Ahead of the figures from the Labour Office, some analysts had been doubtful whether another fall would be delivered after July’s 0.2 percentage point upturn from June’s 5.2 percent figure. Some seasonal work is already drawing to a close.
But the trend from the start of the year, when the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in February, continues. And the number of vacancies continues to be strong. In August there were 139,000 vacancies, an eight-year high, against the unemployment total of 388,474.
But there are still very wide regional variation in the number of job seekers and the number of jobs on offer. The Ustí region in the north west of the country still tops the jobless statistics with an 8.2 unemployment rate followed by the Moravia-Silesia region, in the far east of the country, with 7.7 percent.
That’s around twice the level of the most successful region, Plzeň, where the jobless rate is now 3.8 percent. Hard on the heels of Plzeň are South Bohemia, the Prague region, and Hradec Králové region, all with unemployment rates of 3.9 percent. In some of the areas with lowest unemployment, there are now more jobs on offer than registered jobless ready to fill them. But in the worst areas, such as Karvina, there are now more than 14 job seekers for every vacancy declared.
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Michaela Marksová, highlighted the fact that even in the unemployment blackspot Ustí region there is now a record number of vacancies since 2001 with the figure at 8092 positions.
On average across the country there are now 2.8 job seekers for every vacancy, down from the ratio of 4.3 in August 2015.
Analysts warn that for some time now there is a clear mismatch between the skills being sought by employers in the jobs on offer and the competencies of the pool of unemployed. Labour offices declare a shortage of skilled technicians across the board but a preponderance of jobless with limited skills on offer. Some economists warn that problem could worsen if the government moves as expected and raises the national minimum wage to 11,000 crowns a month from the start of 2017. Unions argue that some jobs are on offer at such low rates of pay that they are a turn off even to the long-term unemployed and they add that if skilled workers cannot be found then companies themselves should take a lead in improving their training so that the gaps can be filled.
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