Infographic of unemployment growth via iStock / sankai

Czech unemployment has risen due to COVID-19, but is still the lowest in the EU

Seasonal work has helped to keep unemployment low, but a big rise is expected at the end of the summer
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Unemployment in the Czech Republic reached 3.7% in June, up from 3.6% in May and 2.6% in June 2019, according to the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Despite the rise, unemployment was still the lowest in European Union. The full effect of the coronavirus pandemic on unemployment, however, will not be apparent until the autumn.

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“As of June 30, 2020, the Czech Labor Office registered a total of 269,637 job seekers, which was 3,493 more than in May and 73,914 more than a year ago. This is the highest value since February 2018, when a total of 280,899 people were out of work. Of the total number of unemployed, 251,460 were available applicants last month,” the Labor Office said in a press release.

The Czech Labor Office uses a different methodology than Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm.

In an international comparison, according to the latest available Eurostat data for May 2020, the Czech Republic’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.4%, the lowest unemployment rate in the entire EU. The average unemployment rate in the EU was 6.7%. Spain led the EU at 14.6%, though figures for Greece were not reported.

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In June, employers offered 334,904 vacancies through the Czech Labor Office. Only 74,098 registered vacancies were “without a flag” for foreigners. For another 260,806 positions, or almost 78%, employers stated they also wanted to hire workers from abroad.

Most job vacancies, about a quarter of the total number, were offered by employers in Prague, followed by the Central Bohemian region with almost 65,700 vacancies. On average, there are 0.8 applicants per vacancy.

Seasonal work has helped to temporarily mitigate the effects of the pandemic. “Although the register of job seekers currently has more people than before the COVID-19 pandemic, with the start of seasonal work, many unemployed people start working. The structure of job seekers is more varied, and employers are generally more likely to find new employees with the required qualifications,” Jan Karmazín, director of the Employment Department of the General Directorate of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic, said.

“In practice, this means that although in June this year, unlike in previous years, unemployment rose, it is not a significant increase. It will probably continue in the summer months, but it will still be rather gradual, until this autumn, when we expect a sharper increase in registered unemployment,” he added.

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The Labor Ministry has previously stated that it expects unemployment to increase by about 5 percentage points due to the coronavirus crisis. Unemployment would thus reach more than 8%.

The greatest interest is in low-skilled jobs such as workers, cleaners, truck drivers, cooks and bricklayers. Three out of four vacancies require basic education and the financial reward is almost at the level of the minimum wage.

At the end of June, 38,500 job seekers had newly registered with the Czech Labor Office of the Czech Republic. At the same time, more than 35,000 people left it. The Moravian-Silesian region (5,364) and Prague (4,842) report the most new arrivals. The lowest number of new applicants was registered by the Labor Office in the Pardubice Region (1,494) and in terms of districts in Rokycany (133).

According to the Labor Office, there were 334,904 job vacancies at the end of June. Most, about a quarter of the total number, were offered by employers in Prague, followed by the Central Bohemian Region with almost 65,700 vacancies. On average, there are 0.8 applicants per vacancy.

The lowest unemployment rate was in June in the Pardubice region, at 2.6% In contrast, 5.4% of the population in the Moravian-Silesian region was unemployed. Of the regions, the districts of Rychnov nad Kněžnou and Prague-East had the lowest unemployment at the end of June, 1.8% and 2%, respectively. This was followed by the Pelhřimov and Jindřichův Hradec regions with 2.2%. The highest unemployment rate was in the Karviná region, where it rose to 8.1 percent.

A month-on-month increase in unemployment was recorded in June in 40 districts, the largest, by 8% in the Mladá Boleslav region. Unemployment, on the other hand, fell in 37 regions, the most in the Břeclav district by 8.8%.

In June, the authorities paid out about a billion crowns in unemployment benefits. The average amount was 8,742 CZK.

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