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Seasonal rise in labour demand less pronounced than in previous years


The fall in the registered unemployment rate observed in May was due mainly to a seasonal rise in labour demand, as indicated by the fact that the biggest employment increase occurred in the construction sector, whereas in other sectors improvements were marginal or did not occur at all. In general, the usual springtime fall in unemployment was less pronounced this year than it tended to be in previous years (with the exception of 2009, which saw a crisis-induced wave of mass lay-offs). This was a result of the still modest level of economic activity and unfavourable weather conditions (most notably heavy rains and flooding, which hampered much outdoor activity). Although industrial output has shown robust growth for seven consecutive months now, this was in large part due to a low reference base. And while a revival in demand (especially foreign demand) has also played its part, part of the production is meant for the rebuilding of inventories depleted during the crisis. Furthermore, capacity utilisation remains relatively low (in the manufacturing sector it amounted to less than 73% at the beginning of Q2), which means that companies need not take on more staff even as they increase output (it will not be until the current rapid growth in industrial output continues for several more months that employers will have to create new jobs). We expect that as weather conditions improve and as construction companies move to make up for the time lost during the winter stoppages, demand for seasonal work will grow more strongly in the months ahead (this will be further supported by the need for a major reconstruction effort following the flood). A seasonal increase in agricultural employment is to be expected as well. However, a durable improvement in the labour market situation will only be possible with the strengthening of the current positive tendencies in the economy (i.e. a return to GDP growth of 3.5-4%) and with a reduction in the uncertainty about the economic outlook. We forecast that at the end of 2010 the registered unemployment rate will stand only slightly below 12%, and that it will start falling more appreciably next year.

Paweł Sionko
Construction Market Analyst, PMR

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