Hungary’s rolling average three-month jobless rate was 3.6 percent in October-December, unchanged from the previous three-month period and down from 3.8 percent a year earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Wednesday.
The rate covers unemployment among those between the ages of 15 and 74.
In absolute terms, there were 167,200 unemployed, 1,500 fewer than in the previous period and 8,000 fewer than a year earlier.
The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group was almost unchanged at 10.1 percent. The unemployed in this age group account for more than one-fifth of all jobless, KSH noted.
The unemployment rate in the 25-54 age group was down at 3.2 percent, and the rate in the 55-74 age group was almost unchanged at 2.6 percent.
Out-of-work Hungarians spent about 14.8 months on average looking for employment during the period, and 39.1 percent of the unemployed had been seeking work for one year or longer.
Commenting on the data, the finance minister noted that a record 4,481,000 people had held a job in October-December in Hungary’s economic sector since the democratic transition.
Mihály Varga told a press conference that KSH’s figures show an increase of 73,000 employees in the private sector in the full year of 2018, which indicates further expansion potential.
Compared with 2010, the number of people employed in the country’s economic sector has increased by 800,000, Varga said, adding that 650,000 of them found a job in the private sector. The minister said the number of employees had increased in line with the country’s economic growth rather than due to local or central government measures.
Varga also noted that the employment rate had risen from 54.6 percent to 69.5 percent since 2010, and the government, he added, is determined to see further improvements. Meanwhile, the jobless number has dropped from about half a million to 167,000, or from 11.5 percent to 3.6 percent, the minister said.
Commenting on the data, analyst András Horváth of Takarekbank said the employment rate in Hungary could be increased by at least another 4 percentage points, but that would require further policy measures.
Péter Virovácz of ING Bank said the jobless rate was stable in the second half of 2018 and employment cannot be expected to expand significantly further unless structural reforms are implemented. In the absence of these, the jobless rate could be 3.5 percent at the end of 2019, he added.