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Russian woes could force unemployment up

  • 1998-09-24
VILNIUS (ELTA) - Although things have been steady until now, Social Security and Labor Minister Irena Degutiene said the Lithuanian economy will start to feel the full impact of the Russian financial and political crisis in three or four months.

The minister forecast that the official unemployment level could reach 8.5 percent by March 1999 instead of the 7 percent predicted earlier, due to the crisis in Russia.

On Sept. 1, unemployment in Lithuania stood at 5.4 percent.

The minister said that while there is no emergency in major Lithuanian cities, the situation in southern Lithuanian cities such as Alytus and Marijampole is more complicated. Enterprises in these cities are laying off an average of 200 to 250 workers per day.

Inhabitants of the northern city of Siauliai, working on the black economy, have started to register at local labor exchange offices, although they could not hope for financial support.

The ministry analyzes the situation on the Lithuanian labor market every week. Although there are no mass lay-offs yet, the government has obliged enterprises to inform labour exchanges of their intentions to discharge more than 20 employees in a 90 day period.

Degutiene said that the state labor inspection started investigations over the legality of unpaid leave that some enterprises forced their workers to take.

According to the ministry data, 38 Lithuanian enterprises have already stopped production and sent their workers on forced leave.