Austrian jobless rate lowest in EU

Austria remains Europe’s model pupil as far as unemployment rates are regarded.

The country, which joined the European Union (EU) in 1995, had a jobless rate of 4.1 per cent in October, according to research by Eurostat. The agency carries out research for the European Commission (EC). Eurostat said today (Weds) Luxembourg registered the second-lowest unemployment rate among the EU-27 at 4.7 per cent, with the Netherlands in third (4.8 per cent) place.

The average jobless rate among the 17 Eurozone members – the EU countries which use the Eurozone as their currency – was 10.3 per cent last month, 0.1 percentage points higher than in the previous month. Austria has been a member of the Eurozone since 2002. The EU-27 recorded an increase of the same extent from September 2011 to the next month. Eurostat said 9.8 per cent of EU citizens were out of work in October of this year.

Spain is experiencing the most serious difficulties in fighting unemployment as the debt-ridden country recorded a jobless rate of almost 23 per cent last month. The situation is similarly dramatic in Greece (18 per cent) and Latvia (16 per cent). Around 16.2 million of the 23.6 million unemployed EU citizens reside in Eurozone countries, according to Eurostat investigations.

Detailed Eurostat labour research figures show that there is still room for improvement for Austria. The country’s youth unemployment rate was 9.1 per cent last month. The Netherlands did best in providing work for young people as only 8.2 per cent had no job in October. Germany comes second in this concern (8.5 per cent), with neighbouring Austria being third. Spain is also at the bottom of this ranking with a rate of 48.9 per cent.

Austrian Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer recently identified the battle against youth unemployment as one of his most important tasks of the coming months. The Social Democrat said attempts of helping women, immigrants and elderly people would receive more attention by experts of his ministry and the Federal Labour Market Service (AMS). The labour ministry will spend seven million Euros more than initially planned on upcoming work initiatives for women aged 50 and over.

Austria’s leading economic research groups – the Viennese Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) and the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) – warned that a slight increase of the country’s unemployment rate was likely to occur in 2012. WIFO and IHS said chances that the situation would improve again in 2013 were good given that the Eurozone crisis managed to plunge into a worse crisis than it currently experienced.

The Austrian economy will grow by 0.8 per cent from 2011 to 2012, according to WIFO’s most recent economic forecast. The agency predicted an increase of 1.8 per cent in July before it lowered its outlook in September. IHS experts predicted an increase of 2.1 per cent in July, but corrected its outlook for 2012 to 1.3 per cent due to the expected unemployment increase, fears of a decline in exports and people’s growing reluctance to spend.