Labour market information

Print this page

Slovenia - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


Slovenia is a Central European country, bordering on Austria (to the north), Italy (to the west), Hungary (to the north-east) and Croatia (to the east and south). It has a surface area of 20 273 km2 and a population of 2 111 461.


The country is divided into two cohesion regions. The East Slovenia cohesion region comprises eight statistical regions (Pomurska, Primorsko-Notranjska, Podravska, Posavska, Zasavska, Koroška, Savinjska and South-East Slovenia), while the West Slovenia cohesion region comprises four statistical regions (Central Slovenia, Gorenjska, Goriška and Obalno-Kraška). They differ from each other in terms of geographical characteristics and level of economic development. The regions in the western part of the country are the most developed and are mainly service-oriented, while the eastern part of the country is less developed, more sparsely populated and more oriented towards farming and industrial activity.


Central Slovenia, where the country’s capital is located, is the strongest region in terms of economic development, and is the administrative, economic, cultural and scientific centre of the country. As many as a third of all Slovenian companies are situated in Central Slovenia. Many residents from other regions commute to work in this region, including from Zasavska. According to figures from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SURS), the percentage of the workforce in employment commuting from Zasavska to work in another region is the highest in the country. The largest numbers of people in Central Slovenia are employed in public administration and defence, compulsory social security activities, education, healthcare, trade, hospitality and transport, followed by professional, scientific, technical and other business activities, in contrast to the majority of the other regions, where manufacturing predominates.  The region also has the highest salaries in the country.


The region where strong commercial performance and export-oriented companies have given rise to salaries that are consequently higher than the Slovenian average is South-East Slovenia. This is the largest region geographically, covering 2 675 km2. The region is dominated by the production of pharmaceutical preparations and the automotive industry.

Gorenjska is a statistical region with one of the highest employment rates and the lowest registered unemployment rate, and joins Central Slovenia and South-East Slovenia in being among the top three most developed Slovenian regions. With its predominately Alpine location, it is one of Slovenia’s tourism-focused regions. However, the highest employment rate by sector is in manufacturing, followed by trade, hospitality and transport. 

The Pomurska region, which is situated in the north-east of the country, differs most of all from Central Slovenia in terms of level of development. This region is predominantly focused on agriculture, as well as on wellness and spa tourism. Its industrial enterprises are mostly engaged in the food-processing and metalworking industries, with civil engineering also more prominent than in other regions. The region has the highest registered unemployment rate and the lowest employment rate in the country.


Besides the Pomurska region, the East Slovenia cohesion region includes Podravska, the second largest region in Slovenia, which borders Austria (Steiermark) to the north and Croatia to the south. The region is home to many enterprises active in manufacturing, and the service sector has also undergone development. The region’s development strengths include its geostrategic position, industrial tradition, the development of transport infrastructure, and the level of integration of the research infrastructure of the University of Maribor and other institutions of learning into the business sphere. However, the region still has a very low employment rate.


Despite the increasing share of the service industry, industrial enterprises remain a major source of employment in Slovenia. In addition to manufacturing industries, especially metalworking and the production of electrical appliances, the production of rubber and plastic products, the production of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers, and the production of other machinery and equipment, the main sectors and sources of employment in the country are trade, education, healthcare and social security activities, construction, professional, scientific and technical activities, transport and storage. The companies ranking as the largest employers in the country are: Mercator, d.d., Ljubljana, Pošta Slovenije, d.o.o., Maribor, Krka, d.d., Novo mesto, Gorenje, d.o.o., Velenje, Lek, d.d., Ljubljana, Revoz, d.d., Novo mesto, Adecco H.R., d.o.o., Ljubljana, Engrotuš, d.o.o., Celje, Telekom Slovenije, d.d. Ljubljana, SŽ – Infrastruktura d.o.o., Ljubljana, SŽ-VIT d.o.o., Ljubljana, Petrol d.d., Ljubljana, LTH Castings, d.o.o., Škofja Loka, Mahle Electric Drives Slovenija, d.o.o., Šempeter pri Gorici, Hella Saturnus Slovenija d.o.o., Ljubljana and Unior, d.d., Zreče.


  In 2019, owing to increasing uncertainty in the international environment, the economic growth achieved in previous years began to slow. Economic activity was also more moderate in the first two months of 2020, with growth coming to a halt in March. The economy began to face the problems caused by the Covid-19 epidemic and the restrictive measures adopted to contain its spread. The decline in economic activity was most acute in the second quarter of 2020, while in the subsequent quarters despite new waves of infection the situation improved somewhat, and the impact on the economy was lighter than originally expected. The closure of activities mainly affected services, including hospitality, tourism, cultural and recreational activities, and personal services, while industry and construction were less affected. 


The restrictions brought about by the epidemic adversely impacted the operations of companies and reduced the level of employment, but the loss of jobs was mitigated by the adoption of a legislative package of state aid, so the average level of registered unemployment in 2020 compared to the previous year increased by 14.6%, while at the end of March this year the Employment Service registered 6.1% more unemployed persons than in March 2020. According to the latest data for February 2021 those in active employment fell on an annual level by 1.4%.


The activities in which, in February 2021 and compared to the same month of the previous year, people were less employed were principally hospitality, various other business activities, including employment agency services, and cultural, entertainment and recreational activities. 


Owing to the increased number of unemployed persons who, given the uncertain circumstances caused by the epidemic, especially in the spring of 2020, registered with the Employment Service, the structure of unemployment has changed somewhat. A comparison between the unemployment figures of March this year and last year shows that the category of permanently redundant workers and those who had lost their jobs as a result of bankruptcies rose to 21.3%. An increase in unemployment was also seen among those aged between 15 and 29 (to 19.8%), between 30 and 39 (to 22.5%) and between 40 and 49 (to 20.9%), while there was a decrease in unemployment among those aged over 50 to 36.7%. By level of education, there was a decrease in the share of unemployed persons with primary education (to 31.3%), and those with vocational education (to 25.6%).   There was an increase in the proportion of unemployed persons with secondary professional and general education in March this year (26.7%), and also of those with tertiary education (16.4%). 


This year there was an increase in the proportion of unemployed women (at 51.2%) and first-time job seekers (14.4%). The easing of the crisis and resurgence of employment served to once again increase the proportion of long-term unemployed persons (50.8%). 


In February 2021, the national registered unemployment rate was 9.0%, which was 1.1 percentage points up on the figure from February 2020. The Gorenjska (6.5%) and Goriška (6.7%) regions had the lowest registered unemployment rates. These were followed by Primorsko-Notranjska (7.1%), Koroška (8.1%), Central Slovenia (8.2%) and South-East Slovenia (8.3%). The following regions had unemployment rates above the national average: Savinjska (9.5%), Obalno-Kraška (9.8%), Zasavska (10.0%), Posavska (10.6%), Podravska (10.9%) and Pomurska (13.0%).


According to internationally comparable figures from the Labour Force Survey, Slovenia’s survey unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 was 5.1%. The activity rate of the population was 58.1% and the employment rate was 55.2%. In relation to the same quarter of 2019, the employment rate did not change, while the activity rate and unemployment rate increased, the former by 0.6 and the latter by 1.1 percentage points.


Text last edited on: 05/2021