The Austrian economy weathered the economic downturn well in 2010, new figures suggest.The Federal Labour Market Service (AMS) announced today (Fri) that companies doing business in the country offered 404,733 positions last year. The authority explained this was a 14.3 per cent increase compared to the number of vacant jobs in 2009.AMS officials stressed that, with 74 per cent, the vast majority of offered jobs were full-time positions. Works council chiefs and think tanks have warned that improving unemployment figures are partly deceiving due to the soaring share of part-time jobs and subcontract labour.The AMS announced today that all business sectors employed more people and offered more jobs last year compared to 2009. It added that all nine Austrian provinces recorded more available positions in 2010 year on year, with Styria (plus 26.3 per cent) and Vorarlberg (23.3 per cent) doing best.The federal labour ministry, which is headed by Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer, announced earlier this year that 250,782 people were out of work in 2010, down by 3.7 per cent year on year.The data means 4.8 per cent of Austrians had no job in 2010, down from 4.9 per cent in the previous year. Those figures also show that Austria and the Netherlands had the lowest jobless rate among the European Unions (EU) 27 member states.”The recovery occurred sooner than expected,” Hundstorfer said commenting on the figures.Opposition politicians have expressed concerns that the jobless rate will rise sharply in May when the country must lift currently existing regulations which make it harder for people from Eastern Europe (EE) to find work in Austria.The Austrian government agreed with EU labour issues authorities that the domestic job market will remain inaccessible for residents of the EUs member states in EE until 2011.The law which included some exceptions regarding highly-skilled staff will be in effect until 30 April. Around 15,000 of these qualified EE residents have moved to Austria for work since their homelands joined the EU.As of 1 May, Austria must guarantee that people from Hungary, Slovenia and six other EU members in EE as well as residents of Malta and Cyprus are not discriminated against when they seek work in the country. All these states joined the EU in 2004. A similar agreement affecting people from Bulgaria and Romania will come into effect in 2013 as these countries became members of the EU only three years ago.The Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) Austrias largest opposition factions in the federal parliament said the country was at risk of “being swamped” with jobless citizens from EE shortly. They claim such an occasion will lead to a decrease of average salaries in Austria due to the comparably low incomes in EE.With only a 33 per cent difference in earnings compared with Austria, Slovenia has the narrowest income gap, while the largest difference exists between the average salaries in Bulgaria and wages in Austria. Residents of the economically weak country earn just 25 per cent of what Austrians get paid.Some economists dismissed the rightist politicians claims that Austrian employees will be hit badly by the change of decrees, pointing out that studies among people in EE planning to migrate for work show that Germany and English-speaking EU member countries are their favoured destinations.