Unemployment rose to 3.7 percent in December

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose to 3.7 percent in December, stagnating at 3.5 percent for the previous three months. 271,803 people applied for jobs through the labor offices, 14,616 more than a month earlier. This is according to data released by the Czech Labour Office (ÚP ČR) on Monday.

At the same time, the number of job vacancies that employers offered at the end of last year was 288 647, which fell by about 3300 compared to November. Nevertheless, their supply was still higher than the number of applicants.

Analysts had expected a rise in unemployment in the last month of the year, a recurring pattern every year. “With the arrival of winter, seasonal jobs, especially in agriculture or construction, are gradually coming to an end, and people whose fixed-term contracts and agreements have ended, or, for example, tradesmen who have temporarily suspended their activities, are already registering in greater numbers,” the Czech Labour Office said.

As in previous months, unemployment remained highest in December in the Ústí nad Labem Region, which reached 5.5 %. It was followed by the Moravian-Silesian Region, where 5.1 percent of people were unemployed at the end of the year. These regions have the highest proportion of long-term unemployed, which experts say is consistent with their economic situation. On the other hand, the lowest unemployment rates in December were in the Pardubice, Plzeň, and Zlín regions, at 2.9 percent.

Unemployment followed a classic seasonal trend curve during the past year. “Until August, it was lower than in 2021 in a year-on-year comparison. In September, it was at the same level, and from October onwards, we recorded an increase, but it was very moderate and ranged in units of tenths of a percentage point. In absolute terms, the number of registered jobseekers increased slightly at the end of the year, and the number of job vacancies decreased,” summarized Viktor Najmon, Director General of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic.

Employers are still interested in employees, mostly in technical and blue-collar occupations. There is a long-term demand for skilled craftsmen. Unemployment will likely rise in the coming months as seasonal work slows down. According to the Office, the labor market situation will depend, among other things, on the course of the war in Ukraine, the current epidemic situation, and the impact of the energy crisis on employers.

According to labor office records, 173 246 Ukrainians with temporary protection worked in the Czech Republic at the end of last year, up from fewer than 100 000 a month earlier. About three-quarters of them are women. They often work as assembly workers or helpers in construction, production, and transport. Some have already returned home or left their jobs. Ukrainians accounted for 5.2 percent of the total number of jobseekers registered at the labor offices, and their unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in November.

Based on information from employers, no major layoffs are planned this year. “Companies have mostly managed to optimize costs. On the contrary, the problem is still a shortage of qualified people. Retraining will become increasingly important, which is why we will focus on it, for example, through the iRekvalifikace project. This will offer courses in digital competencies, which will be available via a new e-shop,” said Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL).

The country’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December last year. The labor offices registered 258 173 job seekers a year ago, and employers offered 343 148 vacancies.