Short overview of the labour market
There are 8 935 112 people living in Austria (as of October 2020), and in the first quarters of 2020, 3 760 609 persons were employed, including 660 783 foreign workers and 349 953 workers from the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
The coronavirus crisis 2020 will not only lead to a reduction in the overall labour force, but also to a significant decrease in the number of foreign workers, including EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals.
In 2020, an average of 409 639 individuals (up by 108 311 compared with the previous year) are registered as unemployed with the Austrian Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice Österreich (AMS)). The nationally calculated unemployment rate for 2020 was 9.9% (+2.5% compared to the previous year). According to the international definition, the unemployment rate for 2020 was 5.4%.
Based on the annual average for 2020, the unemployment rate for young people (up to 25 years old) was 9.3%, up 3% on the previous year. In the same period in Austria, unemployment among the older generation (50+) was at 10.6%, only a 0.6% rise compared to the previous year.
Generally, all age groups were affected by the massive increase in unemployment in 2020. Young workers have had to face an above-average increase in the risk of unemployment. In 2021, unemployment within this age group is expected to fall slightly again. Older workers (50+), however, will have to expect an increase in unemployment during the course of 2021, contrary to the trend of a decreasing unemployment risk.
A total of 12.6% of Austrian workers commute to another federal province, and 0.8% of workers commute abroad.
Text last edited on: 05/2021
The sectors that will see job gains in 2021 include health and social services, IT services and freelance scientific and technical services (e.g. management consultancy). The sectors losing jobs include hospitality, other business services (e.g. personnel leasing), manufacturing, transport, trade (excluding food), tourism operators (e.g. travel agencies) and culture/sport/event management. The construction industry is proving to be robust in the current situation. It will be possible for the job losses incurred in 2020 (-1 100) to be compensated for in 2021 (+5 100).
In 2020, job losses in Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia were above average due to their dependency on tourism. In Vienna, too, job losses – due to the strong decline in city tourism and the restrictions in the field of art and culture – are above the Austrian average.
The COVID-19 restrictions affecting both supply and demand led to a massive slump in Austria's economic performance in 2020. In 2021, the Austrian economy will once again be on a path of economic growth, but this growth (real GDP: +2.2%) will not be sufficient to reach the pre-crisis level. In particular, areas that rely on winter tourism but also on city tourism (e.g. Vienna) and attract a high share of foreign guests will continue to face massive shortfalls in 2021. The extent to which this significant reduction in tourism demand will affect businesses will depend heavily on the degree to which they make use of short-time work subsidies or continue to reduce their staffing levels.
The risk of losing your job due to the coronavirus depends on a variety of factors. In addition to the sectors in which people are employed, a low level of education and short length of service are the main risk factors. If migrant workers are employed in particularly exposed sectors and have few qualifications, they are at an above-average risk of losing their jobs. This was evident in 2020 from the increase in unemployment (+45 500). Depending on how things develop, there may be a decrease in unemployment in 2021, as well as an increase in employment among foreign workers.
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In the first quarter of 2021, there will be 115 800 fewer people unemployed than in the same quarter of the previous year. From the second quarter of 2021 onwards, there may even be an increase in employment compared to the low level of the previous year. On average, companies will only slightly increase their staffing levels in 2021.
It must be expected that the number of registered unemployed people will be significantly above the 500 000 mark in the first quarter of 2021.
Due to the pandemic, the number of salaried employees fell by 81 200 on average in 2020. In comparison, a slight increase of +10 300 to 3 649 200 people in paid employment is to be expected in 2021.
The number of registered unemployed people increased massively by +114 500 in 2020, which corresponds to an increase of 38% compared to 2019, and a further increase of +1 500 (+0.4%) to 417 300 registered unemployed is expected in 2021.
Labour supply increased by 33 300 in 2020 and is expected to increase by a further 11 800 (+0.3%) in 2021.
For both women and men, unemployment rose sharply in 2020 compared to the previous year. The structural shift towards jobs in the service sector and consequently more part-time employment will continue in 2021. In particular, economic sectors and occupational groups with a high proportion of part-time workers, e.g. ‘health and social services’, ‘retail trade’, ‘accommodation and catering’ as well as ‘education and teaching’ will continue to grow.
The increase in unemployment affected people with all levels of education in 2020. Nevertheless, there is still an overall tendency towards occupations with higher qualification requirements. This applies both to business areas in which occupations with high qualification requirements are already strongly represented and to sectors with relatively low qualification requirements for employees overall.
By 2023, unskilled work in the area of goods manufacturing will continue to decline whereas, due to the highly service-orientated economy in Austria as a whole, there will be a slight increase in unskilled work in the tertiary sector.
The number of employees with compulsory school-leaving qualifications as their highest level of education fell sharply in 2020.
The number of employees with academic degrees (university, college, academy, university of applied sciences) will continue to grow.
The essential soft skills in almost all areas and sectors include social and personal skills such as strong communication, customer focus, flexibility, ability to handle stress, a willingness to learn and intercultural skills (working in international teams), as well as excellent knowledge of English and other languages.
In healthcare, familiarity with medical information systems is important, as is experience with quality management, project management, and health promotion and care. In addition to psychological expertise, the most important qualities required are the ability to cope with frustration and good communication skills.
For the electronics/electrical engineering, telecommunications, information technology and machine/automotive/metal sectors, expertise in operating systems, use of computer systems, business management, energy and process engineering, quality management, etc. are essential.
In the construction and timber sector, expertise in the areas of building renovation, waste management and waste disposal and specific IT skills are advantageous. For the office, business, financial and legal sectors, additional technical knowledge is beneficial, as are business management, SAP and e-business skills.
The largest employers with the most employees include Rewe International AG (retail of foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, tourism), Strabag Societas Europa (construction), Spar AG (foodstuffs, sports and fashion goods), Voestalpine AG (metal), Trenkwalder Group AG (management consultancy and personnel placement), Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Erste Group Bank AG, ÖBB Holding AG (passenger and freight transport), Swarovski AG Gruppe (crystal), Novomatic (gambling), Wiener Krankenanstaltenverbund (health care), Porsche Holding GmbH (vehicle sales), OMV AG (energy supplier).
Text last edited on: 05/2021