Updated | Unemployment in Malta sinks to record low of 4%

Economy minister Chris Cardona hails record unemployment figures as proof of fruit reaped by recent government initiatives 

Unemployment in Malta has sunk to a record low of 4%, with the country maintaining its position as the EU country with the highest employment rate.

Eurostat figures for June show that Malta’s unemployment rate is far lower than the EU average of 8.6% and the Eurozone average of 10.1%. Youth unemployment in Malta stands at 6.9%, compared with 18.5% across the EU and 20.1% across the Eurozone.

Economy minister Chris Cardona hailed the results, which he said was spurred by Labour government incentives such as free childcare and a seed investment scheme for start-ups. 

“More unemployed people are now actively seeking a job, because they know that it will directly improve their lives and that the wealth they generate will be administered by a responsible government,” he told a press conference at Castille.

Employment and education minister Evarist Bartolo said that the government is now actively seeking to educate youth according to the skills demands of local employers.

“A pharmaceutical company this week told us of its plans to double its workforce, and we instantly urged the University of Malta and MCAST to adapt their relevant courses to fit the demands that such jobs will require, he said.

Finance minister Edward Scicluna said that unemployed people now have to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they possess a skills set relevant to the modern jobs market.  

"We want Malta's sustained economic growth to become the norm, which means we must now work to pre-empt and prevent potential bottlenecks," he said. 

Eurostat figures show that 20.986 million people are unemployed across the EU, out of which 16.269 million hail from Eurozone countries. Compared with last May, the number of unemployed people dropped by 91,000 across the EU and by 37,000 in the Eurozone. Compared with June 2015, unemployment fell by 2.114 million across the EU and by 1.363 million in the Eurozone.

Besides Malta, particularly low unemployment rates were also registered in the Czech Republic (4.1%) and Germany (4.2%). The highest unemployment rates were observed in Spain (19.9%) and Greece (23.3%). Since last year, unemployment fell in all EU countries, except for Belgium and Estonia where it remained stable, and Austria where it increased by 0.5%. The largest decreases were registered in Cyprus (from 15.1% to 11.7%), Croatia (from 16.2% to 13.2%), Bulgaria (from 9.7% to 7.2%) and Spain (from 22.3% to 19.9%).

In June 2016, 4.194 million young people (under 25) were unemployed in the EU, of whom 2.915 million were from Eurozone countries. Compared with June 2015, youth unemployment decreased by 492,000 in the EU and by 248,000 in the Eurozone.

In June 2016, the youth unemployment rate was 18.5% in the EU and 20.8% in the euro area, compared with 20.6% and 22.5% respectively in June 2015.

The lowest rates were observed in Malta (6.9%) and Germany (7.2%), and the highest in Greece (47.4% in April 2016) and Spain (45.8%).