The Czech economy has long faced a dilemma. It has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates across Europe in recent years. It now, in fact, has the lowest rate across the whole of the EU, at just 2.2 percent, according to a recent update published by Eurostat.
But economists warn that the rate is low because of a shortage of workers, a concern for Czech industries.
At the end of January 2022, the Labor Office registered 267,076 job seekers. But the following month there were more than 364,000 job vacancies, meaning that for every available job there are only 0.7 applicants, according to reports from Jana Steckerová, an economist at the Commercial Bank (KB), a local bank.
The number of unemployed people across the EU is falling — down from 7.5% in January 2021 to nearly 6.2% in January 2022 — as economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said the unemployment rate is indeed “very low” and no significant changes are expected in the near future.
“At the same time, however, we have hundreds of thousands of available jobs,” the spokesperson said. “People who want to work can still find a suitable job in the Czech Republic.”
One reason for this divergence is the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say the international health crisis has altered people’s approach to work. Rather than salary and location, the main concern now is job security. Workers are becoming more choosy and patient. In January 2022, a total of 90,021 people received unemployment benefits, only a third of all job seekers, according to the Labor Office.
Czech Republic’s construction industry typically relied on Ukrainian workers, especially as Czech builders migrate for better-paying jobs in Germany or western Europe.
Plans are underway to assimilate Ukrainian refugees into the Czech Republic’s labour force. Its government is looking into wavering work permits, usually a requirement for non-EU citizens, for Ukrainians. Schools, which have faced severe problems with recruitment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are being advised to offer short-term and part-time employment.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, noting that the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees are women, stressed that many of the jobs available in the Czech Republic are “suitable for women.”