Czech unemployment steady in the first quarter of 2020; Prague has the country’s lowest rate

Figures for January through March showed no significant changes to the Czech employment figures
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Unemployment in the Czech Republic stagnated at 2.0% in the first quarter of 2020, while Prague and Central Bohemia were at 1.1%. Nationwide, the numbers for employed and unemployed both dropped, and the number of economically inactive people increased, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ).

Total employment in the first three months of 2020 decreased by 28,100 persons, or 0.5%, compared to the same time of the previous year and reached 5,277,400 persons. The time period covers January through March. Government measures to fight the coronavirus began in mid-March, so their effects are not full reflected in the statistics.

The number of unemployed, according to International Labor Organization (ILO) methodology, dropped by 3,600 persons, year on year. The number of economically inactive people aged 15 and older increased by 58,700. The number of working men decreased by 4,900 persons, and the number of working women decreased by 23,200 persons. The number of employees decreased by 21,500 to 4,389,900.

The total number of the self-employed decreased by 6,400 persons due to a drop in the number of self-employed with employees by 13,700. The largest decrease in self-employed with employees was in the category of “wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles,” as well as in the age group between 45–54 years.

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In Q1 2020, the seasonally adjusted average number of employed persons increased by 1,100 persons, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The development of employment in individual economic activities was not uniform. In the secondary sector of industry and construction, employment decreased year on year by 13,400, mainly due to a decrease in the number of working persons in manufacturing, down 41,500.

On the contrary, the number of working persons increased, year on year, in construction and in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply.

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In the tertiary sector of services, total employment stagnated. On one hand, the number of working persons decreased in the sector of “wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles,” on the other hand, employment markedly increased in the “human health and social work activities” sector.

In the primary sector of “agriculture, forestry and fishing,” the number of working persons decreased by 14,900 persons, year on year.

In Q1 2020, the employment rate, counting the percentage of working persons in the age group 15–64 years, decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 74.8% compared to the Q1 2019. It had been at 75% or higher since 2018. The male employment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 81.6% and the female employment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points to 67.8%.

The seasonally adjusted average number of unemployed persons according to ILO methodology decreased in the Q1 2020 by 6,700, compared to Q4 2019.

The total number of the unemployed aged 15 and older decreased by 3,600 persons, year on year, and reached 106,000 persons. The number of the unemployed women dropped by 5,100 persons to reach 49,600 persons, while the number of the unemployed men increased by 1,500 persons to reach 56,600 persons. The number of persons unemployed for one year and longer decreased by 6,200 persons, year on year, and reached 28,700 persons.

The general unemployment rate according to the ILO definition in the age group 15–64 years remained 2.0% in Q1 2020.

The unemployment rate decreased the most in the Karlovy Vary region, down by 1.3 percentage points, year on year, to 3.0%. In Q1 2020, the highest unemployment rate was in the Moravia-Silesia region at 3.3%, and the lowest one was shared by the Central Bohemia region and Prague, both at 1.1%.

Along with the decrease to the number of the employed and the unemployed, the number of the economically inactive persons aged 15 and higher significantly increased, year-on-year by 58,700 to 3,600,200.

The number of economically inactive women increased more than the number of economically inactive men. The increase in women was 36,000 and in men by 22,700. The number of inactive persons aged 65 and older markedly increased by 45,400 to 1,980,500.

There was also a large increase in the number of economically inactive secondary school pupils between 15–19 years of age and in the group of persons aged between 30–39 years. The latter case included mainly women taking care of children.

In a sample survey, data was collected also on persons who do not work and do not seek a job in an active manner, and thus do not comply with the ILO conditions for the definition of unemployed, yet they state that they would like to work.

In Q1 2020, the number of such persons was 93,400 persons, which is by 11,200 persons fewer than in the corresponding period of 2019. The majority of persons willing to work, however, are not able to start in a potential job immediately. Only 27,700 persons are able to start in a job within a fortnight, at the latest.

The Czech Labor Office uses different methodology and calculated unemployment for March 2020 at 3.0%.

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