Austrian unemployment increases but no cause for concern: minister

Austrian unemployment increases but no cause for concern: minister
# 02 April 2013 22:37 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. March unemployment in Austria increased 10.3 percent year-on-year to a total of 366,277, local media reported on Tuesday, although government officials played down such concerns citing the harsh weather, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Minister for Social Affairs Rudolf Hundstorfer said the particularly long winter was largely to blame for decreased work in the construction industry which saw a massive 27.2-percent unemployment rise.

He maintained Austria still had the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union for the 23rd month in a row, and that improved weather in April should bring about a return to more normal employment rates.

This March also saw a 30.1-percent increase in the numbers of those out of job for 12 months and more.

With Austria experiencing the highest unemployment figures in seven years this March, there is talk about reducing overtime hours to create more jobs.

In a press release, the Austrian Trade Union Federation said Austrians currently work an annual total of 300 million overtime hours that could be used to give work to some of the 366,277 unemployed.

"If there were no more overtime hours, 180,000 full-time work places could be created," said federation secretary Bernhard Achitz.

He proposed an employer levy of 1 euro per hour of overtime, half of which would go to "active workplace policies" and the other half to health care, APA reported.

Hundstorfer also supported the calls, saying "a reduction of only 10 million hours would already make a difference," and added he had high hopes for "training and retraining" measures to combat unemployment.

The Austrian Chamber of Labor said the reason Austria had fared through the global financial crisis reasonably well was due to a reduction in working hours.

The current 300 million overtime hours carried out in the country should also be seen in the same context, its president Johann Kalliauer said in a press release.