In spite of the recession that gripped the Maltese economy in late 2011, it appears that it was too mild to have a negative impact on the jobs market. In fact, according to the NSO’s Labour Force Survey, the number of employed persons in the second quarter of the year rose slightly by 0.3 percent on the first quarter and was 2.1 per cent up on the same quarter last year,
At 171,728 persons, the number of employed persons is now just 1.3 percent short of the number of inactive persons. On an annual basis, employment rose by 3,600 jobs, unemployment fell by marginally by 200, and the number of inactive persons fell by about 500, which meant that the labour force expanded by just over 3,000 persons.
The number of jobless is just under 12,000 for an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent. Although the rate has edged down a little, we are still a couple of percentage points away from the rate that is normally associated with a full-employment economy. The fall in the unemployment rate was particularly marked amongst women, where it shed half a percentage point to 6.6 percent, whereas the improvement amongst men was negligible and left 6.5 percent of them unemployed.
Another statistic that shows the increasing impact of women on the labour force was the fact that their activity rate (the number of working age women who work against those who don’t), gained three-and-a-half percentage points to reach 47 percent in the second quarter of the year. Men’s activity rate decreased by one percentage point.
Though we do not have the youth unemployment problem of other EU member states, nonetheless we cannot say that our youths have it good all the way. In fact, unemployment amongst those aged between 15 and 24 is 16.1 percent and is up on last year’s percentage. Again, young women are faring better, with their unemployment rate actually falling by 1.5 percentage points to 15.5 percent, whereas that of young men increased by three percentage points to 16.6 percent.
Our dependence – some would say over-dependence – on the services industry is fully reflected in the employment statistics. Fully 77.6 percent of the employed are in different categories of services, and that is 4.3 percentage points higher than in the same quarter last year. The poor showing of manufacturing employment is borne out by a three percentage point drop to 14.7 percent.
In the second quarter of the year, the average gross annual salary of employees increased by €470 to €15,480 – well short of the weekly €500 increase awarded by the Nationalist Cabinet to itself. The best salaries were earned by legislators, senior officials and managers, who commanded a 49.6 percent premium on the average and notched up €23,168. They were followed closely by professionals, who earned slightly under €21.000. Unskilled workers earned only around 50 percent of what professionals made.