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Employment figures improve

July 31st, 2015

As the employment rate increases to a 23 year high, pro-government and conservative columnists think that the Orbán government is on target to achieve its main employment objectives. A left-wing columnist, however, believes the employment picture is less rosy than the government claims.

According to the latest report by the Central Statistical Office, the number of filled jobs was 126,000 higher in June than a year ago, while the number of unemployed shrank by 49,000 year on year, sending the unemployment rate to 6.9 per cent. Of the 126,000 new jobs, 45,000 were created through the government’s public work scheme, around 70,000 jobs were created in the private sector, while the rest are attributed to Hungarians employed abroad.

In Napi Gazgaság, Gergely Kiss interprets the employment data as proof that the government is on the right economic policy track, and is getting closer to the one million new jobs promised by PM Orbán in 2010. The pro-government commentator dismisses left-wing criticism according to which the improvement in the employment rate is due to public work, since most of the new jobs were created in the private sector. Kiss also defends the Orbán government’s public work scheme, and suggests that the government must provide employment for those who cannot get a job in the private sector. If the recent trends continue, by 2018 full employment could be achieved, as announced by PM Orbán (see BudaPost November 6, 2014). The next important challenge is to reduce regional employment differences in Hungary, he concludes.

Everyone who wants to work can get a job, Csaba Erdősi comments in Magyar Nemzet. The conservative columnist acknowledges that the employment trend is promising, although Hungarian wages are still far below the European average. Erdősi points out that the minimum wage is below subsistence level. In conclusion, he calls for a wage rise, denying that this would negatively impact employment or productivity.

In Népszava, Miklós Bonta suggests that employment statistics have always been a playground for tinkering and faking. As for the specific numbers, the left-wing columnist mentions only one piece of data from the current jobs report, namely that the average time spent in unemployment grew to 19 from 18.5 months, and 48.5 per cent of the unemployed have been without a job for at least a year. This fact, according to Bonta, implies that “those who lose their jobs will remain unemployed”.

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