VILNIUS - Lithuania's unemployment rate rose to 5 percent in November from 4.6 percent in October, the Labor Exchange (LE), the government unemployment arm, reported on Dec. 5.
Overall, however, this appears to equate to a slow down on last quarter's 5.6 percent rate of unemployment, which was reported by the Statistics Department.
The Statistics Department noted a rise to 5.9 percent of the workforce in the third quarter of this year, up 1.4 percentage points from 4.5 percent in the second quarter.
Experts unanimously agree that unemployment is rising, but disagree on the rate of change.
"I expect unemployment to rise to 6.5 percent by the end of this year and 7.5 percent next year. This will correlate with the general economic slowdown 's the next two years will be hard, but we should see a reduction in unemployment in 2011 when the economy returns to growth," SEB Bankas Senior Economist Nerijus Udrenas told The Baltic Times.
Many experts are also at odds over the validity of the statistics from the LE, saying that their methodology is flawed.
Udrenas, for example, refused to comment on the statistics from the LE because he considers them to be erroneous.
Inga Luberte, head of the Labor Supply and Demand division at the LE said their survey methods use different terminology, but report the same trends.
"We have registered more this year than last, but we are also getting people more jobs. We have a different methodology to the Statistics Department 's we measure those people who have registered with us," she said.
According to the Statistics Department data, the unemployment level increased by 2 percentage points compared with the same period a year ago.
The number of people out of a job rose by 25,000, or 34 percent, over the quarter, reaching 97,200 people. In year-on-year terms, the jobless number leapt by 34,000, or by 53 percent.
General trends indicate that unemployment will go up in proportion with the slowing economy.
"The general economic slowdown is leading to unemployment. This is across the board 'sapart from Mazeikiu Nafta Oil Refinery, which is seeing growth," Udrenas said.
The largest companies are having an adverse effect on the labor market.
"Mass lay offs are increasing and that is leading to more unemployed people. That is happening because if you look at the GDP, it is not rising as fast as it was and companies are struggling," Luberte said.
Snoras Bank is the least optimistic and thinks unemployment may rise as high as 8.75 percent.
"The main cause is, of course, slowdown of [the] economy. We do not consider a hard landing yet, but decrease of economic growth is obvious. We see the main flow of unemployed [coming] from construction and real estate sectors, which were real boomers in recent years, not so anymore," Gitanas Kancerevycius, Member of the Board and Director of Risk Management Division of Snoras, told The Baltic Times.
Udrenas said the rise in unemployment could be positive if the labor force moves to different industries and becomes more efficient.
"It could help to boost productivity and improve flexibility. There is still a demand in the service industries and some manufacturing. When people move to more productive areas, this can be good."
A total of 108,000 people were looking for work at the beginning of the month, over 77,000 of whom were unemployed, the Labor Exchange said.
"A growing tension surfaced in the country's labor market in the last month of the autumn. Over 23,500 people applied to the Labor Exchange offices, one and a half times more than last year," said Vidas Slekaitis, the director of the Labor Exchange.
"There was a sharp decline in demand compared with October. Therefore, last month we found jobs for a third fewer people," he said.
Since the start of the year, the Labor Exchange has helped 116,200 people to get employed 's 11.1 percent more than in the same time last year.
A total of 11,900 job vacancies were registered in November, down by 51.5 percent year-on-year.