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Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary have among lowest unemployment in the EU

Warsaw, Poland – The Czech Republic had the single lowest unemployment rate in the EU in 2019, according to Eurostat figures released on Friday, while Poland and Hungary also ranked in Europe’s top 5.

Despite optimistic earlier predictions, unemployment is expected to skyrocket in Central Europe as all these countries – like the rest of the EU – are poised to fall into recession in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Czech Republic unemployment rate at 2% in 2019

Dropping by 0.2 percentage points compared to 2018, the Czech jobless rate fell to one of its lowest levels in decades last year to 2% of the population (aged between 15 and 74) – the single lowest in the European Union, where the average stood at 6.3% last year.

Youth unemployment (people aged 15 to 24) was also among the lowest in the bloc at 5.6%.

At the regional level, around half of the EU’s regions with the lowest unemployment rates were located in the Czech Republic (see table below).

EU regions with the lowest and highest unemployment rates. Source: Eurostat

Around one-third (30%) of the unemployed in the Czech Republic have not had a job for 12 months or more – well below the EU average of 42%, but far above Nordic countries like Sweden (14%), Denmark (16%) or Finland (18%), where long-term unemployment is the lowest.

Unemployment in Poland and Hungary also among lowest in the EU

With an unemployment rate of 3.3% and 3.4% in 2019 respectively, Poland and Hungary closely follow the Czech Republic, although analysts warn that the widespread use of part-time and other insecure job contracts in both countries should also be taken into account when looking at employment figures.

At less than 22%, Poland’s long-term unemployment rate was also one of the lowest among EU economies.

Slovakia, meanwhile, remained the Visegrad country with the highest unemployment rate in 2019 (6.7%), despite a drop of nearly 1 percentage point compared to the previous year. Youth unemployment stood at over 16%.

At the EU level, the highest unemployment rates were found in Southern Europe, including Greece (17.3%), Spain (14.1%), Italy (10%) and France (8.5%).

Regional and national unemployment rate in EU member states. Source: Eurostat