The unemployment rate increased by 11% in March.

Austria’s unemployment rate rose by double digits in March for the first time in months, according to the Employment Service (AMS). The number of people registered with AMS increased by 11 percent compared to the previous year, with almost 36,000 more people. Of these, 291,468 were directly registered while 78,172 were participating in AMS training programs.

The rise in unemployment was most significant in the construction and industry sectors. Men and younger people were disproportionately affected. Despite this, older employees aged 60 and over saw a recent increase in employment. The Chamber of Labor expressed concern about the rise in long-term unemployment, particularly affecting those with health issues and older individuals. They also raised concerns about the financial difficulties faced by households affected by unemployment.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher acknowledged the challenging economic environment, with the unemployment rate standing at 7.5 percent in March 2019 before the pandemic hit. The current rate of 6.2 percent is still higher than pre-pandemic levels. He expressed concern about the mismatch between rising unemployment and the demand for skilled workers, particularly in sectors like tourism.

The ÖGB managing director also raised concerns about the government’s lack of action to address rising unemployment figures. Amidst criticisms from opposition parties, calls were made for an increase in work permits to address labor market challenges. Despite this, there is still high demand for skilled workers reported to AMS across various sectors like electrical installation and cooking as indicated by skilled labor barometer.

Johannes Kopf, boss of AMS expressed his concern over the development stating that it was particularly bad given favorable employment conditions around Easter time. He noted that Austria was still in a clear recession and that rapid recovery reducing unemployment was unlikely due to high inflation and excess personnel capacity in companies.

Overall, Austria’s economy is facing challenges as jobless numbers rise despite government efforts to address them through training programs and work permits initiatives.

By Aiden Johnson

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