One-percent unemployment rate?

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One-percent unemployment rate?

With the official unemployment rate under 1%, the state seems to have achieved almost full employment. But this is mainly due to the vast public sector which employs around 50% of the gainfully occupied population, 1.5–2 times higher than among similar populations in countries with transition economies.

In many public institutions, the state controls incomes and ensures that employees are paid on time. In public corporations, there are no lay-offs and the number of employees is constant, even if it is inefficient or affects profitability. Corporations are also expected to provide marginalized groups with stable employment and wages.

Unemployment benefits exist but they are not an effective mechanism for alleviating poverty or promoting labour mobility. Benefits range from USD 10 to USD 20 and only officially registered unemployed are entitled to them. An unemployed person is supposed to register at a ‘labour exchange’, and is then required to do certain jobs for free (for example, cleaning streets, collecting crops, etc). All this explains low unemployment levels in Belarus.

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists

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