Estonia's unemployment rate 6.6%, labor participation highest in years
According to Statistics Estonia, the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2015 was 6.6 percent and the employment rate 63.3 percent. Compared to the first quarters of the previous years, the labor force participation rate was at the highest level of the last 15 years.
In the first quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points compared to the fourth quarter of 2014. Hence, the growth was not very remarkable and can largely be explained by seasonal effects – several economic activities require less labor force in the winter months. An estimated 44,000 people were unemployed and 623,000 were in employment.
Whereas in recent years there has been a decrease in the number of active persons in the labor market, mainly due to population decline and the smaller birth cohorts reaching working age, the labor force participation rate – the share of the labor force among the population aged 15–74 – was at the highest level of the last 15 years in the first quarter of 2015.
The increased economic activity of the working-age population has been strongly influenced by the greater labor force participation of the elderly, but also by the generation born during the Singing Revolution (1988-1991) having entered the labor market.
Men are more engaged in the labor market – 67 percent against women's 60 percent – but the indicator increased slightly more for females than for males.
By age group, young people aged 15–24 had the lowest employment rate and the highest unemployment rate in the first quarter, but 13.8 percent more youngsters were employed than last year in the same time.
The unemployment rate of Estonians was 5.8 percent and that of non-Estonians 8.6 percent.