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Poland - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


Poland is located between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains in the south, mostly in the basin of the Vistula and Odra. In the north Poland borders with Russia and Lithuania, in the east with Belarus and Ukraine, in the south with Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and in the west with Germany. The administrative area of Poland is 312 679 km2, which gives it the 69th place in the world and the 9th in Europe. With almost 38.5 million inhabitants (2017), it ranks 36th in the world in terms of population and 6th in the European Union.  Poland is divided into 16 provinces (województwo) consisting in total of 66 cities with district rights and 314 districts (powiat). Warsaw is the largest city and the capital of Poland. Other metropolises include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin

Poland is a democratic country with a developed, high-yielding economy and a high quality of life indicator. Every year Poland is visited by about 17.5 million tourists, which makes it one of the most visited countries in the world.  Poland is the eighth largest economy in the European Union and one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2017 the Polish economy grew at a rate of 3.8 %, i.e. much faster than the average growth rate in the euro zone and the entire European Union (2.1 % and 2.3 %, respectively). The growth forecast for the Polish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2018 is 3.3 %, compared to 1.9 % in the euro zone. Moreover, on the basis of the Global Peace Index report prepared by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) in 2017, Poland ranks 33rd in the world (22nd in Europe) in terms of safety.

Poland’s key industrial sectors are: mining, energy production, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, automotive and electromechanical industries such as fine mechanics, electronics and electrical engineering, as well as transport, food, textiles and clothing industries. Based on selected sectors of the Polish Classification of Activities (PKD) at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, the largest pool of vacancies (28.1 %) concerned crafts and related industries, mainly in entities engaged in production, construction, trade and repair of motor vehicles; there were also vacancies for people with high professional qualifications (18 800).

Moreover, Poland has a stable economy with an established macroeconomic position. The unique conditions for running and opening a business are supported by the country’s often tested resilience to economic crises.

Poland's attractiveness for investors is attributable to a number of factors:

  • Ambitious and hard-working people. Poland's greatest asset is its people. What stands out is their ambition, motivation to learn, high work ethics, loyalty and rare entrepreneurial spirit. 
  • Economic diversification. Diversification of manufacturing, service and agricultural enterprises. It is not a problem to find business partners in sectors such as the automotive industry, aeronautics, IT, food processing, electronics or finance.
  • Macroeconomic stability. Sound public finances, stability and predictability of the economy encourage long-term investment planning. Poland is the only country in Europe to have avoided the crisis, and public finances are in a much more sound state than the EU average.
  • High quality of products and services. Flexibility of businesses in meeting even the strictest quality and industry standards.
  • Infrastructure investments. Business opportunities are driven by the modernisation of infrastructure (road and rail transport and energy infrastructure) on an unparalleled scale in Europe.
  • A large internal market and access to the European market. Over 38 million consumers in Poland and easy access to the European Union market of 500 million consumers as well as the countries of Eastern Europe.

According to Ernst and Young’s European Attractiveness Survey 2017, Poland is recognised as the 5th most attractive business destination in Europe (the first in Central and Eastern Europe). We were outranked only by the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain.

According to BAEL (Polish Labour Force Survey), recent years have witnessed a gradual rise in the number of employed persons and, simultaneously, a decline in unemployment in Poland, which has had a beneficial effect on the employment and unemployment rates. In spite of the positive changes, the Polish labour market is still facing some problems. This includes territorial disparities due to which in certain districts (powiaty) the unemployment rate significantly exceeds the national average. Notably, such districts can be found even in provinces that include large agglomerations, such as the Mazowieckie province with its Szydłowiecki District, where the unemployment rate exceeded 25.9 % in March 2018, as compared to 1.9 % in Warsaw. At the end of March 2018, the difference between districts with the lowest and highest unemployment rate was 19-fold (the city of Poznań: 1.4 %, Szydłowiecki District: 25.9 %). Some adverse phenomena continue to persist in the Polish labour market, namely its seasonal character, i.e. the increase in unemployment in the months at the beginning and end of the year and the structure of unemployed persons registered at labour offices. Over half all unemployed persons (approx. 54 %) have not completed secondary education, one in five has no work experience, three out of ten have no professional qualifications and nearly 39 % have been registered as jobless for over a year. The average duration of unemployment remains high.

The economic activity rate of the population aged 15 and above was 56.4 % in 2017 (annual average) and increased by 0.2 % compared to 2016. The employment rate of the population aged 15 and over was 53.7 % in 2017 (annual average) and increased by 0.9 % compared to 2016. The unemployment rate in Poland (according to the BAEL) for people aged 15 and above was 4.9 % in 2017 compared 6.2 % a year earlier. 

The harmonised unemployment rate published by Eurostat for March 2018 in Poland stood at 3.9 % (for the age group 15-74) compared with 7.1 % in the EU(28). The rate of unemployment registered (at labour offices) at the end of March 2018 was 6.6 %, i.e. lower by 1.4 % as compared to the previous year. It should be emphasised that the unemployment rate in March 2018 was the lowest of all rates recorded for the month of March in the past 27 years. Therefore, bearing in mind the positive developments, the forecasts are also optimistic. 

The drop in the unemployment rate is the result of a systematic decline in the number of unemployed persons registered at labour offices. In 2016, it decreased by 14.6 %, and in 2017 by 19 %. The number of unemployed persons registered at labour offices at the end of 2017 was 1 081 700 and was lower by 253 400 than in the corresponding period of 2016. At the end of 2017, the share of women in the total number of unemployed persons registered at labour offices was 55.1 %, while that of men was 44.9 %. The main reasons for the decline in unemployment are: the increasing number of job adverts available at labour offices and a significant number of unemployed persons returning to work. At the end of March 2018, there were 1 092 200 unemployed persons registered at labour offices, representing a decrease of 232 000 (17,5 %) compared to March 2017.  


Text last edited on: 11/2018

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