According to the Centre of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, Slovak unemployment decreased in July to 13.99% from a figure of 14.25% in June, but the figures come after revelations that the government has been pressuring labour offices to crunch the numbers in a questionable fashion.
According to MP Miroslav Beblavy, who cites various sources, the staff of labour offices up and down the country received instructions to purge the unemployment records so as to improve the image of the government, he claims. This is being done by getting certain people off the records, like women on maternity leave, and those who work an absolute minimum but who are still registered as unemployed and entitled to supplementary benefit.
Beblavy claims people are being called to the labour offices deliberately at times when they could not appear without losing the small amount of part-time work they are doing, with others allegedly being forced to sign off.
The official labour office stats talk about some 410,868 people seeking work in July, which would be 1.75% down on the previous month. Astonishingly, the unemployment rate dropped in all regions of the country in July, while Rimavska Sobota still tops the list with a massive 32.6 unemployment rate.
Slovakia’s unemployment is higher than the EU average, but the stats are not always compatible or consistent and can be easily manipulated, depending on who is included and who is not, and by the kinds of practices that Mr Beblavy claims the government is adopting to sink the numbers.