Hungary's jobless rate hits 16-year high

08:20, March 30, 2010      

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Hungary's jobless rate reached 16-year high to 11.4 percent between December 2009 and February 2010, merely 0.1 percent short of the all-time record set in 1994, the Central Statistics Office said Monday.

The figure was 2.3 percent higher than that of last year, meaning that 479,000 people in Hungary aged between 15 and 74 were out of work.

According to the office, 44.9 percent of the unemployed have been looking for a job for at least one year.

Analysts said the figure would continue to rise until seasonal hiring began in construction, catering, tourism and farming industries.

Gergely Suppan, analyst with Takarekbank, said that changes in retirement conditions and other factors might have triggered the rise, and shrinking domestic demand made it even worse.

Suppan said the jobless rate would drop to below 11 percent by summer.

Meanwhile, ING Bank analyst David Nemeth predicted a record 12 percent jobless rate in March and April, and a rate of 11-11.5 percent at year-end.

He singled out unexpected layoffs in the private sector as a cause for high unemployment rate, and warned that the construction industry could not absorb as much workforce as it had done in previous years due to low domestic demand.

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