Saturday, March 2, 2024


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Mario Reljanovic, our famous expert in labour relations, has recently commented on the fact that, according to a Government inquiry, the number of unemployed decreased by 87,400 in the second semester of this year. It’s true, he says, that certain number of doctors and nurses were employed during the Covid-19 crisis, but it’s also a fact that many unemployed who lost their job were not registered in the Central Register, due to the informal nature of their work. “Judging by some available facts, the number of those who do not work might be at the level of 47%”, he adds.
Reljanovic is skeptical about the methodology used for “counting” the unemployed, accusing it of relying too much on the “subjective feeling of the interviewees. If you ask them whether they had some work last week and were paid in cash or in kind, they might respond positively, which in many cases is absurd”, he says. (According to a Serbian joke, by using this criterion one could get registered as an employed for trimming neighbour’s hedge two hours a month and getting as a reward two bottles of beer.) Here all depends on the interviewees’ subjective feeling of being employed, and it’s wrong because it makes the real number of unemployed differ a lot from the number of those who are officially registered at the National Employment Agency. The fact that all those working in the informal sector, often intermittently and without a salary enabling them to survive are also considered employed, certainly doesn’t help determine the number of unemployed in Serbia precisely.
The official unemployment rate is currently only 7.3%, but if we go on using the aforementioned methodology it could easily drop down to 1%, warns Reljanovic, pointing out the possibility of the statistics being misused. “The number of unemployed is calculated taking into consideration the number of those registered by the National Employment Agency. They are round 500,000, but that fact is not realistic as many of those looking for job have not been registered there. There are also persons, who although being registered, were late in renewing their registration or missed the interview with the social adviser, and as such were eliminated from the list of the unemployed. Many of those who lose their jobs – aware of the fact that they will not get any benefit there – do not even go to the Agency”, concludes the expert.
It ought to be said that the demographic factor and the migrations are considerably contributing to the fall of the number of unemployed, too. The opening of the EU borders in the future might additionally increase the flood of educated people heading west, who were 60,000 last year.


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