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Jobless rate edges down to 3.5 percent

Hungary's jobless rate was 3.5 percent in May, down from 3.6 percent in the previous month and from 3.9 percent twelve months earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Thursday.

The rate covers unemployment among people between the ages of 15 and 74.

There were 168,500 unemployed in Hungary in May, 7,800 fewer than a month earlier and 20,900 fewer than in May 2021.

The rolling three-month average jobless rate stood at 3.4 percent, slipping from 3.5 percent in April and 4.1 percent twelve months earlier.

The monthly jobless rate for the 15- to 64-year-old age group stood at 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in the previous month and 4.0 percent a year earlier.

KSH uses the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of joblessness which includes people who are without work, people who carried out activities to seek employment in the previous past four weeks, and people who did not look for work but made arrangements for a future job start within two weeks.

KSH noted that data from the National Employment Service (NFSZ) show there were 234,000 registered jobseekers at the end of May, down 14.7 percent from twelve months earlier.

Analysts told MTI that the growing number of vacancies on the job market was forcing businesses to offer increasingly competitive wages, which further fuelled inflation.

Magyar Bankholding chief analyst Andras Horvath said Hungary was near full employment and the labour market had returned to pre-pandemic levels. He said the war in Ukraine had not had any visible effect on domestic labour demand, adding that refugees could even help ease some of the labour shortages in the summer season. Horvath projected an annual average jobless rate of 3.1 percent.

Daniel Molnar, an analyst with Szazadveg research institute, said employment had risen mainly on the back of the relaunch of the economy and rising domestic demand. He said the number of Hungarian jobholders working abroad was on the rise but had yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. Molnar said employment could remain high over the coming months and the job market was more likely to face problems on the supply side.

ING Bank senior analyst Peter Virovacz said the latest data pointed to a strengthening labour market trend, adding that the number of unemployed was last this low in late 2019 and early 2020. He said that over the last several months the rise in employment had significantly outpaced the fall in unemployment.

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