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Hungary’s three-month rolling average jobless rate fell to 3.3 percent in December, down 0.2 percentage point from the previous month and 0.3 percentage point lower than twelve months 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 155,200 unemployed, 8,100 fewer than in the previous month and down 12,000 from a year earlier.

The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group stood at 12.2 percent, up 2.1 percentage points from a year earlier. The unemployed in this age group account for more than one-fourth of all jobless, KSH noted.

Out-of-work Hungarians spent about 10.6 months on average looking for employment during the period, and 30.4 percent of the unemployed had been seeking work for one year or longer.

The number of employed stood at 4,519,600 among 15- to 74-year-olds, 38,300 or 0.9 percent more than in the same period a year earlier. The employment rate was 63.0 percent, up 0.4 percentage point.

Hungary Jobless Rate Steady at 3.5 percent

The number of employed included 108,200 Hungarians in fostered work programmes and 120,000 working abroad. The number of those employed on the domestic primary labour market rose by 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 4,291,400, while the number of fostered workers dropped by 17.9 percent. The number of those working abroad was up 8.6 percent.

KSH defines “employed” in line with International Labour Organisation standards as anybody who worked one or more hour a week or was temporarily absent from their job during the survey week. The data also include those employed in public work schemes and those working abroad for less than one year.

Government: employment data best ever

Commenting on the data, a state secretary of the innovation and technology ministry said KSH had never measured higher employment rates. Since Fidesz came to government in 2010, the number of employees has grown by 840,000, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3 percent from 11.8 percent, Sándor Bodó said.

Finance Minister: More than 50,000 with Jobs under New Employment Scheme

The gap between the employment rate of men and women is still considerable, with 77.6 percent and 63.1 percent, respectively, Bodó said. The government is working to address that challenge with developing creches and training programmes for young mothers, he said.

Analyst: employment rate could still be raised

ING Bank chief analyst Péter Virovácz said the fall in the unemployment rate was supported by a rise in the number of employed paired with a drop in the number of economically active Hungarians. He added that the unemployment rate could hover around 3.5 percent this year.

Takarékbank senior analyst András Horváth said the global economic slowdown is starting to impact headcount in some important sectors. He added that the employment rate could stand to be raised by four percentage points, closer to more competitive EU peers, but this would mean adding 250,000 jobs to the economy.

K+H head analyst Dávid Németh said Hungary has achieved full employment for all practical purposes, but the employment rate could still be raised if employers were more receptive to part-time positions and telecommuting.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI