102,000 persons are unemployed

news release no 135

According to Statistics Estonia, the unemployment rate rose to 14.6% in the 3rd quarter of the current year and the number of the unemployed was the largest during the period after the restoration of independence in Estonia. The positive change on the labour market was that the decrease of the employment stopped.

According to the data of the Estonian Labour Force Survey, in the 3rd quarter of 2009 the estimated number of unemployed persons was 102,000, which is the biggest during the period after the restoration of independence in Estonia. In the last two quarters the unemployment growth has slowed down. If in the 1st quarter the unemployment rate was 11.4% and the number of unemployed persons increased by 26,000 compared with the previous quarter, then in the 2nd quarter the increase in the number of unemployed persons was 13,000 and in the 3rd quarter 10,000.

The unemployment growth has slowed down, but thereby the number of discouraged persons has started to increase. In the 3rd quarter 11,000 persons had stopped seeking a job because they did not expect to find one. In the previous quarter the discouraged persons numbered 7,000, in the 3rd quarter a year ago — 5,000. As the unemployment is remarkably higher among men compared to women, the persons stopping the job seeking are also mainly men. In the 3rd quarter nearly 60% of the unemployed persons and two thirds of the discouraged persons were men.

A significant positive change in the 3rd quarter’s labour market is that the decrease of employment stopped. The increase of unemployment continued only due to the increasing economic activeness of the population. The number of economically active people or labour force has increased due to the increasing number of young people entering the labour market and persons of pensionable age leaving the labour market in older age.

The employed persons numbered 598,000 in the 3rd quarter. As in the previous three quarters the employment rapidly decreased, there were 62,000 employed persons (9.4%) less in the 3rd quarter of the current year compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Compared to the previous quarter the number of employed persons slightly increased (0.9%). By economic activities it is remarkable that the employment increased again after the rapid decrease in construction and trade during the previous quarters. The employment increased also due to seasonal and other temporary jobs typical of the 3rd quarter. Up to the 2nd quarter the number of persons forced to work part-time due to the lack of work or orders (the so-called underemployed) grew. In the 3rd quarter the situation on the labour market in this respect has also slightly improved. The number of underemployed persons decreased from 15,000 to 13,000.

The number of inactive persons (students, retired persons, homemakers, discouraged persons, etc.) aged 15–74 was 338,000 in the 3rd quarter of 2009. Similarly as in the same period of the previous year, the number of persons inactive due to studies continued to decrease. In the 3rd quarter of the current year their number was 97,000, which is smaller than in the previous quarter as well as in the same quarter of the previous year. At the same time when the numerous generation of the singing revolution of Estonia (at the end of the 1980s the birth rates increased) are in transition from school to labour market, the generation of students replacing them is already much smaller. To find a job is more and more difficult for young people. In the 3rd quarter of the current year the unemployment rate of persons aged 15–24 rose to 29.2%. A year ago it was 14.7%.

Persons aged 15–74 by labour status, 1st quarter 2000 – 3rd quarter 2009

Diagram:Persons aged 15–74 by labour status, 1st quarter 2000 – 3rd quarter 2009


Unemployment rate is the share of the unemployed in the labour force (sum of employed and unemployed persons). The estimates are based on the data of the Labour Force Survey. Statistics Estonia has been conducting the Labour Force Survey since 1995 and every quarter 5,000 persons participate in it. The Labour Force Survey is carried out by statistical organisations in all European Union Member States on the basis of harmonised methodology.

For further information:

Ülle Pettai
Leading Statistician
Social Surveys Service
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 433 0582

More detailed data have been published in the Statistical Database.