Labour market depends on economy re-launch, says employment official
Mitja Bobnar, the director general of the national institution, has told the STA in an interview that the labour market had felt the crisis brought by the coronavirus epidemic already in March.
At the end of April, 88,648 persons in Slovenia were registered as unemployed, which is 14% more than in March and 20% more than in April 2019.
Under normal circumstances, employment would have been boosted in the spring, and the unemployment rate would have been decreasing until June. "Around 71,000 persons would have been registered in April, and around 68,000 at the end of June."
Not only that a lot of people are losing their jobs, there is also less hiring, as the number of people who got a job in April was down by 60% compared to the same month last year.
Bobnar noted that hospitality sector had announced 84% less vacancies in April compared to last year. "There were 454 vacancies for serving staff last April, compared to 50 this year," while the number of unemployed waiting staff had doubled.
The hospitality and tourism sector has been hit hardest with the lockdown measures, and despite the measures being gradually eased, Bobnar expects that the consequences on the sector will linger for a while.
Asked about job opportunities for the relevant staff, he said that they were flexible, which meant that they could find jobs with other employers from the sector or even in other sectors, and that the Employment Service would help them.
The service is ready for a possible wave of lay-offs, as trade unions in many companies are afraid of mass lay-offs as recently announced by the household appliances maker Gorenje, which is owned by China's Hisense.
Bobnar noted that when the unemployment rate in Slovenia increases, an increased interest for jobs in the EU market is detected, but all countries are facing the same crisis so there are fewer job opportunities there, either."
As for the EU's SURE support scheme for jobs on shortened working time, which is aimed at protecting jobs during the pandemic, he stressed that these were loans that needed to be repaid.
The government has taken many measures to protect the labour market, and the time for an analysis of their effect will only come after the crisis, but it "is already clear that the consequences would be much more serious without them".
This is reflected, for instance, in the number of applications employers have filed to get subsidies for wages and social security contributions, which stands at around 40,000 for more than 238,000 employees.
On the other hand, some employers still have problems with getting enough staff, with demand being high in healthcare, social services, construction, mechanical engineering, metalworking, personal services, security, transport, logistics and warehousing.
"An interesting thing is that the number of vacancies for welders, electrical installers and electromechanics in April was higher than in last April. Demand for workers for simple manual work has not decreased either," Bobnar said.
He is cautious about projections, as there are no reliable outlooks regarding future economic trends. The unemployment rate will certainly be higher than last year, and its decrease will depend on to what extent the economy will be re-launched.