Slovakia - Working conditions

Slovakia's labor force is 3.32 million. Because the previous communist system required women to work outside the home, many are now choosing to remain at home when they have children, in contrast to trends in the United States. In 1999 and early 2000, the rate of unemployment, which registers those actively looking for work, reached

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Slovakia 26 7 16 5 12 10 24
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Germany 14 6 7 2 10 7 53
Czech Republic 24 5 14 5 12 16 24
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

nearly 20 percent. It now appears to be declining, with unemployment for late 2000 at 16-17 percent. Many experts believe that high levels of unemployment are difficult to avoid in the ongoing transition period. The government has focused its energies on improving foreign investment and business possibilities in an effort to promote new jobs, and unemployment benefits are available, as well as progressive provisions for paid maternity leave.

Unemployment is at the lowest level in the capital of Bratislava, where wages are at the highest level in the country, and in the eastern region of Košice. In 1994, the majority of those employed, 53.8 percent, worked in the service sector. Industry employed 37.3 percent of the workforce, and the remaining 8.9 percent worked in agriculture. Given the importance of foreign investment in the economy, those workers who speak English and German have an advantage in the labor market.

There is an active confederation of trade unions, with the largest single union being the Engineering and Metal Union. The majority of all workers are union members. Slovakia has instituted a system of laws that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, faith, and political views. However, discrimination against the hiring of Romany people (Gypsies) persists in practice.

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