Last year, there were fewer unemployed persons, but the duration of unemployment increased

Posted on 15 February 2022, 8:00

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2021, the labour force participation rate was 71.1%, the employment rate was 66.7%, and the unemployment rate was 6.2%. There were 43,100 unemployed persons, which is 4,800 less than in 2020.

Katriin Põlluäär, analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that there was a decrease in the number of unemployed persons as well as in the unemployment rate last year. “The number of unemployed persons had risen to 47,900 in 2020 but fell to 43,100 last year. In the last quarter of 2021, there were 36,300 unemployed persons, which is just 1,300 persons more than in the first quarter of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Põlluäär.

There were 24,100 unemployed men and 18,900 unemployed women. The unemployment rate was 4.7% among Estonians, 9.8% among Russians and 7.9% among persons of other nationalities. Unemployment rate among the working-age population was the highest in North-Eastern Estonia, especially in Ida-Viru county. 

Põlluäär noted that the duration of unemployment has increased compared to previous years. “As before, the biggest share of unemployed persons are without work for a short time, i.e. less than six months. But in 2021 there was a decrease in the share of persons who were unemployed for up to 12 months, and an increase in the share of persons who had been unemployed for 12 months or more. In 2020, 17% of the unemployed had been without work for more than a year, whereas in 2021 they represented more than a fourth of the unemployed with nearly 11,600 persons,” explained Põlluäär.

Number of unemployed persons by duration of unemployment, 2015–2021

There were 650,500 employed persons, including 329,500 men and 321,000 women. Compared to 2020, proportionally the number of employed persons increased the most in financial and insurance activities and in water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities. Year on year, the share of employed persons fell the most in water transport and in crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities, but also in arts, entertainment and recreation.

“Based on occupation, there was a rise in the share of professionals and craft and related trades workers, but the share of managers decreased compared to 2020,” added Põlluäär.

The employment rate remained the same as in 2020. Of the employed persons, 562,800 worked full-time and 87,700 worked part-time. “A third of the persons working part-time were men and the rest were women. The number of underemployed persons, i.e. persons who work part-time but would like to work more and are available for additional work within two weeks, was 6,800, which is a few hundred persons less than the year before. Every sixth woman and every fourth man working part-time were underemployed,” noted Põlluäär.

The labour force participation rate was 71.1%, falling by 0.5 percentage points compared to 2020. There were 282,300 inactive persons. The main reasons for inactivity were retirement, studies and illness or disability. “In 2021, there were 8,900 discouraged persons. This means that, compared to 2020, there were nearly two times more persons who have lost hope of finding work,” added Põlluäär.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the labour force participation rate was 71.3%, the employment rate was 67.6%, and the unemployment rate was 5.2%. The latter has continued the downward trend, as in the fourth quarter of 2020 the unemployment rate was 7.6%.

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 estimates are based on the data of the Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics Estonia since 1995. Every quarter, 5,000 persons participate in the survey. The main representative of public interest for the survey is the Ministry of Social Affairs, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data required for this statistical activity. Due to the requirements of the Integrated European Social Statistics (IESS) regulation, as of 2021, the Estonian Labour Force Survey is based on a new methodology.

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database.

See also the labour market application of Statistics Estonia and the Ministry of Social Affairs at (in Estonian).


For further information:

Kadri Kütt
Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9181

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