Labour market data are essential for planning the state budget and local budgets, and also as the input for strategic documents of the administrative fields of ministries. “Estonian Action Plan for Growth and Jobs 2008–2011” serves as an example of this, on the EU level “European Employment Strategy” may be brought as an example.
In the European Employment Strategy, a goal has been set to raise the employment rate of the population aged 20–64 to at least 75% by 2020. In Estonia, this indicator was higher than 75% in 2007–2008 but dropped during the economic crisis. Estonia reached the goal again in 2015 and in 2016, the employment rate of 20–64-year-olds was 76.6% (80.8% for males and 72.6% for females).
Year 2016 did not bring major changes in the labour market. Whereas in 2015 the employment rate of working-age population rose by over 2 percentage points, the unemployment rate declined to 6.2% and the labour force participation rate increased by 1.4 percentage points, in 2016 the employment rate rose by 0.4 and the activity rate by 1 percentage point. The unemployment rate was 6.8% in 2016. Nevertheless, Estonia has so far reached two targets of the Europe 2020 employment strategy: the employment rate of people aged 20–64 has exceeded 76% and approximately 45% of the new generation, i.e. 30–34-year-olds, have completed tertiary level education. The share of early leavers from the education system in 2016 was 10.9% (target 9.5%).
Employment indicators improved at the beginning of the year
According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2017, the unemployment rate was 5.6%, the employment rate 66.3% and the labour force participation rate 70.2%. The labour force participation rate reached a record level in comparison with the 1st quarters of previous years.
No major changes in the labour market
According to Statistics Estonia, in 2016, the unemployment rate was 6.8%, the employment rate 65.6% and the labour force participation rate 70.4%. Within a year, 8,300 additional people entered the labour market, which mainly results from the decrease in the number of inactive persons. Compared to 2015, the number of inactive people in the labour market has decreased by 9,700 persons.
Reconciliation of work and family life: wishes, opportunities and reality
Many employees face the difficulties of the reconciliation of work and family life. According to the 2015 data of the Estonian Labour Force Survey, 38% of working respondents reported having at least one household member aged under 18. Most of such households (85%) also included the respondent’s spouse or partner, the majority of whom were also active in the labour market, meaning that an even greater share of the economically active needs to reconcile their work and family life. In Estonian society, the high level of labour market participation among women, including women with children, has been a long-term tradition and standard. Moreover, most women work full-time.