Unemployment rate remains low

Austria retained its reputation as Europe’s job sector model pupil.The country registered the lowest unemployment rate among all of the European Union’s (EU) 27 member states last month, it was announced today (Thurs). The federal labour ministry of Social Democrat (SPÖ) Rudolf Hundstorfer said that 221,369 people living in Austria had no job in May. The ministry explained this was a 2.5 per cent drop compared to May 2010.The number of jobless people in re-education courses organised by the Labour Market Service (AMS) and the labour ministry declined from over 78,000 to around 66,000. Austria’s opposition parties – the Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) and the Greens – have accused the government coalition of SPÖ and the People’s Party (ÖVP) of trying to “hide” unemployed Austrians by having them sit these courses. The parties claimed many of the lectures would not match the demands of people out of work. They also said only few course participants would find a job in comparably little time – a claim Hundstorfer has vehemently denied.Today’s figures also show that the number of unemployed residents of Austria declined by nearly 15,000 from April 2011 to the following month. This revelation contradicts the FP֒s warning the country will be “swamped” with jobless workers from Eastern Europe (EE) as Austria was forced by the EU to drop all kinds of possibly discriminating bureaucratic barriers against people from the 10 nations which joined the EU in 2004. The labour ministry and the country’s leading think tanks said they were optimistic that Austria will manage to cope with the additional number of jobseekers from EE.Austria and Germany are the only two EU members which asked for a seven-year regulation to shield their federal job markets. Some economists think the Austrian economy would have done better in the past years had the government decided not to call for this measure.The new figures mean Austria and the Netherlands had the lowest unemployment rate in the EU at 4.2 per cent each. The EU average was 9.4 per cent last month. Nine member states suffered increases. Spain experienced the greatest difficulties once more as more than one in five residents (20.5 per cent) of the southern European country had no job last month.Austria also did well as far as the situation of young people is concerned. Only the Netherlands (6.9 per cent) and Germany (7.9 per cent) recorded a lower unemployment rate for Under-25s than the country (8.7 per cent) last month.Reports have it that a rising number of companies of all sectors are desperate for high-skilled staff. Analysts have called for more investments in the education sector to improve the situation.