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Unemployment figures in January over a quarter higher than in the previous year |  Tyrolean daily newspaper online

Unemployment figures in January over a quarter higher than in the previous year | Tyrolean daily newspaper online

Die Zahl der Arbeitslosen lag Ende Jänner im Vergleich zum Vorjahresmonat um 27 Prozent höher.

© GEORG HOCHMUTH

Vienna – The ongoing corona lockdown and the lack of a start to the winter season in tourism continue to burden the labor market. The number of unemployed and training participants was 27 percent higher at the end of January compared to the same month of the previous year. 535,470 people were registered as unemployed or in AMS training, that is 114,769 more than in January 2020. In comparison: at the end of December 520,919 people were unemployed.

The corona-related peak was reached in mid-April 2020 with 588,000 unemployed. At the end of January, the unemployment rate in Austria was 11.4 percent, 2.8 percentage points higher than in January 2020. Two years ago, the unemployment rate in January was 9 percent.

At the end of January, around 470,000 people were also on short-time work. In total, the Public Employment Service (AMS) has paid out around 5.9 billion euros for the Corona short-time work so far. According to the AMS, around 1.2 million employees – 43 percent women and 57 percent men – received short-time working allowances in 2020. For phase 3 of short-time work, which will run until the end of March, 4.5 billion euros have currently been approved. Last week, the 2021 budget for short-time working was increased from 5 billion to 7 billion euros due to the high demand.

“The January balance sheet shows that we are still in a very difficult situation on the labor market due to the pandemic,” said Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP), commenting on the current unemployment figures in a broadcast on Monday. Kocher left it open as to whether the January figures had already reached the peak of unemployment in 2021. “That depends on how the health situation develops and whether there are the first steps to open it, said Kocher in the Ö1” Mittagsjournal “on ORF radio on Monday reached the first weeks of February. “We’ll have to wait and see how the pandemic develops. We will continue to have high unemployment, “said Kocher.

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According to a preliminary forecast, the number of employees in January fell by 3.3 percent to 3.636 million compared to the same month last year. The number of positions available immediately fell by 18.5 percent to around 58,347.

79,675 people in the hotel and catering industry without a job

For AMS board member Johannes Kopf, the situation in tourism is still “particularly negative”. In this area, unemployment more than doubled compared to the previous year due to the lockdown. Women are increasingly affected by this development. “Even after a long search there is nothing positive in these monthly statistics, except perhaps the fact that it will probably be the highest, absolute figure for unemployed people that the AMS has to report this year,” said Kopf.

At the end of January, 79,675 people in the hotel and catering industry were without a job, an increase of 99.8 percent compared to January 2020. The increase in unemployed people and training participants was also relatively high in other industries, in transport and storage (+39.4 percent) in Trade (+26.8 percent), health and social services (+ 24.7% percent) and in the manufacture of goods (+21 percent). The rise in unemployment in temporary employment (+14 percent) and in construction (+13.6 percent) was significantly lower.

In Austria, many unemployed people spend a long time looking for a job. The number of long-term unemployed at the end of January was 139,818, an increase of 43.6 percent compared to the previous year.

The labor market development differs significantly according to the federal states. The lowest increase in unemployed and training participants at the end of January compared to January 2020 was in Lower Austria (+14.1 percent), Burgenland (+15 percent), Upper Austria (+18.6 percent), Styria (+20.2 percent) , Carinthia (+20.9 percent) and Vienna (+22.9 percent). The increase was significantly stronger in Vorarlberg (+47.6 percent), Salzburg (+71.1 percent) and Tyrol (+118.5 percent). In these federal states, winter tourism usually plays an important role economically. Due to the corona pandemic, the winter season has not yet started.

Platter calls for “gentle opening steps”

Tyrolean governor Günther Platter (ÖVP) once again used the dramatic increase in the number of unemployed in Tyrol in January compared to the same month last year to call for “gentle opening steps”. These are an “important signal” and would mean “predictability”, said Platter in a broadcast in the run-up to the federal state conference on Monday in Vienna. “Every step of the opening of the Covid measures relieves the job market – but we are still in the middle of this crisis, which will continue to demand patience,” said AMS Vienna boss Petra Draxl in a broadcast.

The opposition criticizes the turquoise-green government’s labor market policy. SPÖ social spokesman Josef Muchitsch again called for an increase in unemployment benefits and a large-scale retraining, employment and economic program. FPÖ and NEOS are also pushing for more measures. “When ÖVP Labor Minister Kocher is happy that despite all the challenges it is positive that unemployment has remained at a ‘relatively constant level’ throughout January and that there has been an increase in the number of training participants, then that is a complete mockery those affected “, criticized FPÖ social spokeswoman Dagmar Belakowitsch. “If more than a million people in Austria are currently either without a job or on short-time work, action is needed, not just fine words and empty announcements,” said NEOS social spokesman Gerald Loacker.

The economically liberal think tank Agenda Austria advocates that from April onwards, short-time working allowances should only be paid for the hours actually lost. The socially liberal Momentum Institute recommends a general increase in unemployment benefits in order to help those affected financially and to stimulate consumption. The economists at Bank Austria only expect a slow improvement in the labor market. With the onset of the economic recovery, the situation on the labor market will probably recover from the second quarter of 2021, but “only very moderately for the time being”, the bank economists write in an analysis. (APA)

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