Austria’s Unemployment Rises to 338,896

Austria’s Unemployment Rises to 338,896

Austria is grappling with rising unemployment as the nation confronts economic challenges, with 338,896 individuals without a job by the end of October. Among them, 264,232 actively seek employment opportunities, while 74,664 are engaged in the AMS training programs.

Rising Unemployment Amidst Economic Challenges

The latest data released by the Ministry of Labor revealed that the national unemployment rate climbed to 6.3 percent, a noticeable increase from the 6.0 percent recorded in October 2022. In the pre-pandemic period, the unemployment rate stood at 7.0 percent, illustrating the country’s economy’s strain.

Sector-Specific Disparities and Regional Impact

Sector-specific disparities have also impacted the Austrian labor market. Notably, the construction and industrial sectors have experienced a surge in unemployment, with the regions of Styria and Upper Austria particularly affected.

Job Market Resilience Amid Decreased Openings

Despite the challenges, the AMS reported 101,067 open job positions for October. “Austria is currently facing a recession,” cautioned Petra Draxl, AMS Director. The overall labor market situation in October appears similar to the previous month’s, highlighting the persistent challenges.

Labor Minister’s Perspective on the Situation

In contrast to the decrease in job openings by 21,711 positions compared to October 2022, there are still over 100,000 available job positions, signifying the job market’s resilience. AMS Director Draxl emphasized, “Despite the rising unemployment, pessimism, at least in the labor market, is not warranted.” Surprisingly, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Economic Federation reported more than double the number of job openings for October, with 207,264.

Government Response and Labor Minister’s Assessment

Austrian Labor Minister Martin Kocher believes the situation remains “largely stable” despite the current economic challenges. He acknowledged the moderate increase in unemployment in October compared to the previous year, which is a resilient response to the ongoing economic hardships. Data from AMS indicates that the number of open job positions has fallen by 17.7 percent compared to the previous year.

Calls for More Personnel and Concerns About Unemployment Insurance Contributions

In response to these developments, the Chamber of Labor (AK) has called for an increase in personnel for the AMS to address the significant challenges the labor market poses. Renate Anderl, AK President, noted, “Effective and sustainable labor market policies can only succeed if the AMS has sufficient personnel.” The proposed reduction in unemployment insurance contributions remains a point of contention for the AK, with concerns raised about its potential impact on the welfare state.

Investing in Quality Education and Opposition to International Recruitment

Anderl emphasized the importance of investing in quality education for workers and job seekers, stating that there is untapped workforce potential in Austria that can be activated through quality education. The AK believes that recruiting workers from countries like the Philippines, as proposed by the government, may not be the best solution for Austria’s current labor market challenges.

Political Criticisms and Proposed Solutions

In response to the situation, the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) criticized the labor market policies of the turquoise-green government, highlighting issues such as the lack of adjustments to unemployment benefits and transparency regarding cost-saving measures in labor market projects.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) accused Labor Minister Kocher and the government of “complete denial of reality.” They emphasized the challenges in the construction sector and called for a change in labor market policies.

Rise in Unemployment in Specific Sectors and Regional Impact

The rise in unemployment in the construction sector is noteworthy, with a 10.9 percent increase in the number of unemployed individuals compared to the previous year. Additionally, the industrial state of Upper Austria saw a 10.9 percent increase in unemployment.

Other states with above-average increases in unemployment include Vorarlberg (8.7 percent), Styria (6.4 percent), Vienna (6.4 percent), and Salzburg (6.3 percent). The only decrease in unemployment was observed in Carinthia, where unemployment fell by 1.1 percent.

Call for Targeted Incentives to Boost Workforce

The Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) emphasized the need for targeted incentives to motivate individuals to work more, given the rising employment rate and decreasing work volume per employment relationship. The data showed that the part-time employment rate for women reached 50.6 percent in the second quarter of 2023, while for men, it was 13.4 percent. /APA/ORF/AMS

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