For about a year now, the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic has been gradually decreasing, which has been welcomed by politicians and the people alike. But at the same time, fresh statistics have revealed that the number of long-term unemployed people has been steadily increasing. Lucie Krupickova has more.
At the end of the year 2000, nearly 40 percent of people registered at employment offices around the country had been without work for more than one year, which is a 10 percent increase over the figures in 1999, when the figure was only 30 percent. The average time people remain on the dole now is 14 months, double the figures from 1999.
In the 1990s, many Czechs had to leave their jobs due to the rapid changes involved in the transformation towards a market economy. Skilled and qualified workers had few problems finding a new job. A large proportion of the unemployed today are those with poor qualifications, the elderly, handicapped people, or those with young children. I asked Marketa Vilitova from Czech Labor and Social Affairs Research Institute how this situation compares to that in Western Europe:
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