The rate of long term unemployment in Estonia in 2018 was the lowest for 20 years, according to government agency Statistics Estonia, with the labor force also increasing in size.
The average unemployment rate for the whole year was 5.4% in 2018, the agency says, with the labor force participation rate 71.9%, and the employment rate standing at 68.1%.
A total of 702,400 persons were active on the labor market through 2018, up by 3,600 YoY, with the number of employed persons rising by a little over 6,000 to 664,700. Conversely, the annual average number of unemployed persons was 37,700, down by 2,600 from 2017, according to Statistics Estonia.
The incidence of long-term unemployed (those searching for employment for 12 months or longer) was 9,400, the lowest figure in 20 years, and a fall of just over 4,00 YoY, through 2018.
The breakdown by demographics also revealed an overall trend of falling unemployment, and hovered around the 5% mark in most age groups (4-5% for 25-49-year olds, and 5.2% in the 50-74-year-old age bracket). This is below the EU average unemployment rate of 7% in Q1-Q3 2018, Statistics Estonia says.
However, youth (15-24-year-olds) unemployment is higher at 11.8%, though it fell too.
The number of under-employed persons has also increased. A person is underemployed if he/she works part-time but would like to work more and is available for additional work immediately (within two weeks). In 2018, the number of under-employed persons was 7,300, up by 2,600.
The number of “inactive” persons on the labor market also continued to fall, standing at 274,300 in 2018. The largest sub-group here was the retired, close to 90,000, with studies, illness or disability, and maternity leave being the other main causes of workplace inactivity.
Part of the explanation of the rise in labor utilization is an increase in part-time work, which reached a record high in 2018 at 82,000 part-time workers, up by nearly 11,000 YoY.
When taking Q4 2018 in isolation, the unemployment figure is even lower, at 4.4%, a 10 year low, says Statistics Estonia. (ERR/Business World Magazine)