Austrian unemployment rate edges up

Austria has failed to retain its position as the Eurozone’s jobless rate model pupil, it emerged today (Fri).Figures presented by Eurostat, the European Commission’s (EC) statistics agency, show that 4.5 per cent of people living in Austria had no job last month (August 2010: 4.3 per cent). The Netherlands, which took second place in August, did best with 4.4 per cent, down by 0.1 per cent compared to the previous month.These revelations mean analysts’ predictions from last year that the Austrian unemployment rate would reach record highs this autumn as the economy is trying to recover turned out to be wrong.Eurostat also said that the average unemployment rate in the Eurozone – the 16 European Union (EU) countries which have adopted the Euro as their currency – edged up by 0.1 per cent to 10.1 per cent month on month in September (September 2009: 9.8 per cent).Spain was once more at the bottom of this list with an unemployment rate of 20.2 per cent. Latvia (19.4 per cent), Estonia (18.6 per cent) and Lithuania (18.2 per cent) did not do much better.Eurostat said it also found that the average unemployment rate in the EU was 9.6 per cent last month, up by 9.3 per cent year on year but unchanged compared to August 2010.The unemployment rate announcements come just a few days after a Brussels-based think tank declared Austria had the Eurozone’s second-best competitive edge. The Lisbon Council said Germany did best while the Netherlands came third.Germany, which recovered quicker from the recession than expected, has been Austria’s most important export/import partner for decades. The state of the Austrian economy is strongly dependant on how firms in Germany are doing.Austria and Germany share fourth place in the Lisbon Council’s financial sustainability research topped by Luxembourg.The Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) announced last week it planned to rake in 1.2 billion Euros more in taxes year on year in 2011. SPÖ and ÖVP also said they wanted to reduce spending by 1.6 billion Euros.The government hopes to reduce the budget deficit to 3.2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Last year’s budget deficit reached 3.9 per cent after just 0.4 per cent in the previous year. This year’s deficit is expected to range around 4.5 per cent.Opposition party leaders have branded the coalition’s budget plans “uninspired and unambitious”.