Based on last year’s statistics, the working-age population in Estonia grew by 25,600

Posted on 15 February 2024, 8:00

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2023, the labour force participation rate was 73.9%, the employment rate was 69.2%, and the unemployment rate was 6.4%.

Tea Vassiljeva, analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that, based on 2023 statistics, the working-age population in Estonia increased by 25,600. “Refugees from Ukraine accounted for most of this rise. As a result, all labour force indicators increased last year in absolute terms,” explained Vassiljeva.

Working-age population, change on previous year, 2019–2023

“In 2023, there were 694,600 employed persons, which is 17,200 more than the year before. The number of employed women was 346,700 which is 11,000 more than in 2022. There were 347,900 employed men, up by 6,200 from the year before. Employment increased in the services sector and decreased in industry and construction,” said Vassiljeva, adding that the employment rate (69.2%) was nevertheless unchanged year on year.

The number of the unemployed also increased in 2023. There were 47,700 unemployed persons, which is 7,500 more than in 2022. The number of unemployed men rose only by 700 and totalled 22,900, while the number of unemployed women grew by 6,800 compared with 2022 – there were 24,800 unemployed women in 2023.

The unemployment rate in 2023 was 6.4%. It was 0.8 percentage points higher than in 2022. “The male unemployment rate was 6.2%, which is just 0.1 percentage points bigger than the year before. The female unemployment rate was 6.7%, rising by 1.6 percentage points compared with 2022,” noted Vassiljeva. Unemployment grew more in Western, Southern and Central Estonia, and more modestly in Northern Estonia. In Northeastern Estonia, where unemployment has historically been high, the unemployment rate did not increase.

Unemployment rate by region, 2018–2023

Year on year, there was no major change in the labour force participation rate (73.9% in 2023). “The number of economically inactive people increased only by 900 and reached 261,700 in 2023. The increase was due to a rise in the number of inactive men – up by 2,700 from 2022. The number of inactive women in 2023 fell by 1,700 compared with 2022. The main reasons for inactivity were retirement age, health issues, and studies,” said Vassiljeva.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the labour force participation rate was 73.7% and the employment rate was 69.1%. The unemployment rate was 6.3%, down by 1 percentage point from the third quarter when the unemployment rate was 7.3%. In the fourth quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate was 5.4%.

The labour force, or economically active population, comprises persons in employment and unemployed persons – people who are willing and able to work. The unemployment rate is the share of the unemployed in the labour force. The employment rate is the share of the employed in the population aged 15–74. The labour force participation rate shows the share of the labour force in the population aged 15–74.

The Labour Force Survey statistics include permanent residents of Estonia who live or plan to live in Estonia for at least a year or more. The number of temporarily protected Ukrainian refugees included in the Labour Force Survey is too small to give estimates on them. More information about Ukrainians in the Estonian labour market can be found in the dedicated section of short-term statistics on our website.

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database, in the labour market section on our website, and in the labour market application of Statistics Estonia and the Ministry of Social Affairs at (in Estonian).

When using Statistics Estonia’s data and graphs, please indicate the source.

For further information:

Kai Kaljumäe
Communications Partner
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9184

press [at] (press[at]stat[dot]ee)