Latvia’s jobless rate is EU’s highest

Unemployment in Latvia, where one in five workers is without a job, is the highest in the European Union, according to a new report from Eurostat.

The Luxembourg-based statistics agency reported Dec. 1 that seasonally adjusted unemployment in Latvia reached 20.9 percent in October, topping even Spain, where the rate was 19.3 percent. A year earlier, Latvia’s unemployment stood at 9.1 percent.

Average unemployment across the 27 countries that are members of the European Union reached 9.3 percent in October 2009, up from 7.3 percent in October 2008. The lowest unemployment rates, according to Eurostat, were recorded in the Netherlands (3.7 percent) and Austria (4.7 percent).

The average jobless rate for youth—persons younger than 25—reached 20.7 percent in October across the EU, according to Eurostat. Spain recorded the highest youth unemployment, 42.9 percent, followed by Latvia, 33.6 percent. The lowest youth unemployment was in the Netherlands, 7.2 percent.

Regional data reported by Latvia’s State Employment Agency (Nodarbinātības valsts aģentūra, or NVA) show that the Rēzekne area remains the worst in terms of joblessness. The unemployment rate there reached 30.4 percent in October, NVA officials told a Saeima commission on Nov 17. The lowest unemployment rates were found in the Tukums region (10 percent) and the Ventspils region (10.8 percent).

However, Director Baiba Paševica also noted that unemployment in Kurzeme has grown markedly, a trend usually characteristic of Latgale, according to a NVA press release. The Kuldīga region, for example, recorded unemployment of 21.2 percent in October. By contrast, Latgale’s largest city, Daugavpils, had one of the lowest unemployment rates, 11.7 percent.

NVA officials also noted that the ranks of the unemployed include more women (52 percent) than men (48 percent). That is explained in part by the fact that layoffs have been most prevalent in sectors that traditionally employ more women, such as government, education, medicine and social work.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

3 thoughts on “Latvia’s jobless rate is EU’s highest

  1. Andri, not wishing to sound facetious… but it is common knowledge, rather than news, that Latvia’s jobless rate is the highest in the EU!

  2. What are the Latvian politicians, besides fighting each other, doing about this problem. No wonder that so many people, like myself, born in Riga, cannot return to our native land.

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