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Poland - Podlaskie

Short overview of the labour market


The Podlaskie Province is located in the north-east of Poland. It is adjacent to three provinces: Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Mazowieckie and Lubelskie. The province forms an internal (with Lithuania) and external (with Belarus) border of the EU. In terms of ethnicity and culture, it is the most diverse province in Poland. Poles, Belarusians, Tatars, Russians and Jews have lived here side by side for centuries. The province is Poland’s largest centre of members of the Orthodox Church (approximately 300 000).

It covers 6.5% of Poland's surface area and it is inhabited by 3.1% of the country's population (1 181 500 inhabitants at the end of 2018). The main urban centres are Białystok (the capital city of the province), Łomża and Suwałki. The Podlaskie Province is characterised by very low population density (59 people/km² as compared to the national average of 123 people/km²). In 2018, the Podlaskie Province recorded a real population drop rate of -0.06%. Continued net permanent migration of -1.70 (both domestic and permanent emigration to foreign countries) and the negative population growth of -1.00 contributed to that situation.

The Podlaskie Province is one of the least economically developed regions in Poland. Due to its low share in the gross value added (2.2% of the country’s GDP), it scores the 15th position in Poland.  The average GDP per capita in the province is PLN 37 140 (2017), i.e. 71.8% of the national average (13th position in Poland).

Podlaskie is an agricultural province. The main crops are cereals and potatoes. Agriculture is almost entirely in the private sector. The province's dairy, poultry and meat products are well-known and valued across the country and abroad. The province industry is, apart from production and processing of food products, production of rubber and plastic products, production of wood, cork, straw and wicker products, as well as production of machinery and equipment. These four sectors generate 73.0% of the value of the sold industrial production.

At the end of 2018, 103 000 businesses were registered in the province’s Official Business Register. The vast majority of entities belong to the private sector (96.5% of all entities) and operate in the following sections: trade, car repair (23.3%), construction (13.9%), professional, scientific and technical activities (8.9%) and industry (8.7%).

The following sectors generate the largest number of jobs in the Podlaskie Province: industrial processing, trade, car repair, construction, transport and warehousing – they account for 38% of the total number of employed. The largest and most expansive companies in Podlaskie Province include Dairy Cooperative Mlekovita from Wysokie Mazowieckie, Dairy Cooperative Mlekpol from Grajewo, UNIBEP (GK) from Bielsko Podlaskie, Regional Dairy Cooperative in Piątnica, Cooperative of Commodity Turnover of Dairy Industry SOT from Białystok, DANWOOD from Bielsko Podlaskie, Barter from Białystok, SUEMPOL from Bielsko Podlaskie, Pronar from Narew and ADAMPOL (GK) from Zaścianki. The non-market services sector plays an important role on the regional labour market. These services include public administration and defence, compulsory social security, education, healthcare and welfare services. This sector employs over 19% of the people working in the Podlaskie Province.

In the Podlaskie Province at the end of 2018, 598 commercial companies with foreign capital only were recorded and their number increased by 3.5% in relation to the previous year. The presence of foreign investors in the province, however, mainly concerns the city of Białystok and is still small in the scale of the whole province. It is worth noting that in the Podlaskie Province there are production plants of foreign companies of recognized reputation (e.g. IKEA, British American Tobacco Plc). On the other hand, international cooperation is focused on the countries of the eastern neighbourhood – Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania, and is also activated in the regions of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, the Russian Federation and Slovakia.

According to the LFS, in the first quarter of 2019 there were 470 000 people in employment in the Podlaskie Province, 16 000 persons were unemployed and 408 000 were not economically active. The economic activity rate was 54.3%, and the employment rate was 52.5%; both these rates were lower than the national average by: 1.6 and 1.2%.

34 200 unemployed was registered in the labour offices at the end of May 2019. The registered unemployment rate was at the level of 7.2% (the country – 5.4%). The highest unemployment rate was observed in the following counties: Kolno county – 13.7%, Grajewo county – 12.3% and Sejny county – 12.3%, while the lowest in Suwałki county – 4.0%, Bielsko county – 4.7% and in the city of Suwałki – 5.1%. The so-called actual unemployment rate (according to the LFS) was lower than the registered unemployment rate – at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 it was 3.3% (3.9% for Poland) and was higher for men (3.7%) than for women (2.8%).


Text last edited on: 09/2019

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