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Slovenia - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


Slovenia is a Central European country, bordering 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 2 095 861.

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 majority of people in Central Slovenia are employed in public administration and defence, compulsory social security activities, education, healthcare, trade, hospitality and transport. Central Slovenia stands out in comparison with other regions because of the low percentage of people employed in industry and the high percentage employed in professional, scientific, technical and other business activities. The region also has the highest salaries in the country.

The Pomurska region, which is situated in the north-east of the country, differs significantly 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.

Gorenjska is a statistical region with one of the highest employment rates and the lowest registered unemployment rate. 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.

Despite the increasing share being taken by the service industry, industrial companies 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 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, Adecco H.R., d.o.o., Ljubljana, Engrotuš, d.o.o. Celje, Revoz, d.d. Novo mesto, Telekom Slovenije, d.d. Ljubljana, SŽ – Infrastruktura d.o.o., Ljubljana, SŽ-VIT d.o.o., Ljubljana, Unior, d.d., Zreče, LTH Castings, d.o.o., Škofja Loka, Mahle Electric Drives Slovenija, d.o.o., Šempeter pri Gorici, and Hella Saturnus Slovenija d.o.o., Ljubljana.

Slovenia’s economic performance since 2014 has been good, with the stand-out year being 2017, when the economic growth rate was 4.8 % (SURS figures). In 2019, owing to increasing uncertainty in the international environment, economic growth began to slow, with GDP rising by 2.4 %. Economic activity was also more moderate in the first two months of this year, with growth coming to a halt in March. The economy has begun to face the problems caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the measures adopted to tackle it. The consequences of the slowing down or halting of the majority of activities are likely to be considerable and long-lasting as the Slovenian economy, because of its small size, is predominantly oriented towards exports and, as such, dependent on European markets in particular.

The economic crisis that has arisen as a result of Covid-19 and grown in dimension will cause significant changes to existing conditions in the Slovenian labour market. The positive trends of past years, when employment achieved high levels of growth and unemployment fell as a result of increased demand for labour, have come to a halt and begun to reverse. Many employers in the most affected areas of business, such as catering and hospitality, tourism, transport, trade, entertainment and culture, personal services and partly also manufacturing, have found themselves facing an uncertain future. As a result, they are making workers redundant rather than taking new ones on.

The following sectors saw the greatest decrease in workforce in March compared to the same month last year: real estate activities, catering and hospitality, financial and insurance activities, mining and manufacturing.

Owing to the large number of unemployed persons who applied to the employment service after the epidemic was declared, the unemployment structure changed considerably. A comparison between the unemployment figures of April 2020 and April 2019 shows that the category of permanently redundant workers and those who had lost their jobs as a result of bankruptcies accounted for the highest rise in unemployment over the course of 12 months, to 22.4 %. An increase in unemployment was also seen among those aged between 15 and 29 (to 20.6 %), between 30 and 39 (to 23 %) and between 40 and 49 (to 20.6 %). By level of education, there were unemployment rises for those with vocational secondary education (to 26.3 %) and those with secondary technical and general education (to 26.4 %).

The proportion of unemployed women fell (to 50.1 %), as did the proportions of first-time jobseekers (to 12.6 %) and the long-term unemployed (to 41.8 %). By age, the proportion of those aged 50 or over fell (to 35.8 %), while by level of education, there were falls in the share of unemployed persons with primary education (to 31.2 %) and those with tertiary education (to 16.1 %).

In March 2020, the national registered unemployment rate in Slovenia was 8 %, which was 0.1 percentage points more than the figure for March 2019. Gorenjska (5.6 %) and Goriška (5.6 %) had the lowest registered unemployment rate, followed by Primorsko-Notranjska (6.4 %), Central Slovenia (7 %) and South-East Slovenia (7.5 %).  The following regions had unemployment rates above the national average: Obalno-Kraška (8 %), Koroška (8.6 %), Zasavska (8.8 %), Savinjska (8.9 %), Posavska (9.35 %), Podravska (9.5 %) and Pomurska (12.7 %).

According to internationally comparable figures from the Labour Force Survey, Slovenia’s survey unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2019 was 4 %. The activity rate of the population was 57.5 % and the employment rate was 55.2 %. All rates fell in comparison with the same quarter in 2018: the activity rate by 1.1 percentage points, the employment rate by 0.8 percentage points and the unemployment rate by 0.4 percentage points.


Text last edited on: 07/2020

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