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Austria - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


There are 8 857 960 people living in Austria (as of 2018); based on the annual average for 2018, 3 741 484 were wage earners, 752 892 of whom were foreign employees, with 456 978 EU/EEA nationals including Swiss.

A total of 312 107 individuals (down by 27 868 compared with the previous year) are registered as unemployed with Arbeitsmarktservice Österreich (AMS). The unemployment rate for 2018 was 7.7% (national calculation method). According to the international definition, the unemployment rate for 2018 was 4.9%.

The unemployment rate for young people (up to 25) was 6.7%, a 1% fall on the previous year. Unemployment among the older generation (50+) is at 8.7%.

Owing to the service-oriented economy, an annual average increase in wage earners of 53 200 to around 3 712 900 can be expected in Austria in 2019. Unemployment will go down by an average of 1.4 percentage points compared with the previous year. The labour pool will increase by 48 800 people to 4 033 500 on average over the year.

A total of 12.6% of Austrian workers commute to another federal province, but only 0.8% of workers commute abroad.

Real economic growth in 2018 was up by 3% compared with the previous year. Growth will slacken somewhat in 2019 owing to weaker foreign demand, with growth of +1.9%.

Owing to the upturn which is also expected in 2019 (as a result of rising exports, stronger domestic demand and increased investments), the number of employees in companies (wage earners) will rise by 53 200 (annual average).

The slowdown in economic growth compared with 2018 means that unemployment will only drop slightly in 2019 compared with the previous year (-4 400), and an average unemployment rate of 7.5% is expected (drop of 0.2% on the previous year).

The most successful sectors in 2019 are expected to include automotive and mechanical engineering in the area of physical goods production, as well as companies in the metal and electrical industries. The number of workers required in the construction industry is also expected to rise.

In the services sector, additional employment opportunities are expected in the area of other services, but also in the fields of personnel leasing, building management, public administration and health and social care. Employment will also rise in the wholesale and retail trade sector (part-time jobs) and in the hotel and restaurant trade.

Despite the positive economic environment, there will also be job losses. Industries where jobs will be lost (inter alia due to restructuring measures and digitalisation) include the banking and insurance industry, adult education and energy and water suppliers.

Companies located in the western federal provinces will record a slightly above-average increase in employment levels in 2019, in particular in Tyrol (+1.7%) and Vorarlberg (+1.4%), but also in Styria (+1.5%). The increase in the number of people employed by companies located in Carinthia and Salzburg (+1.1%), Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vienna (+1.2%) will be below average.

The increase in employment in 2019 will be split roughly equally between men and women.

A significant part of the employment growth will be made up by people with non-Austrian citizenship. It is expected that 82% (2019) of the additional jobs will be filled by people who do not have Austrian citizenship. The reason for this is the continued influx of migrant workers (these include people living in Austria as well as cross-border commuters). The fact that employment rate among domestic workers is nevertheless still rising can be attributed to increasing numbers of women joining the workforce and a higher retirement age for women.

The largest employers with the most employees include Rewe International AG (retail of foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, tourism), Strabag Societas Europa (construction), Spar AG (foodstuffs, sports and fashion goods), Voestalpine AG (metal), Trenkwalder Group AG (management consultancy and personnel placement), Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Erste Group Bank AG, ÖBB Holding AG (passenger and freight transport), Swarovski AG Gruppe (crystal), Novomatic (gambling), Wiener Krankenanstaltenverbund (health care), Porsche Holding GmbH (vehicle sales), OMV AG (energy supplier).

The recovery on the labour market mean that unemployment has dropped among workers of all educational levels, but more highly educated individuals are likely to face a slight increase in their (relatively low) chance of unemployment in 2019. For example, females (+400) and males (+100) with an academic degree can expect a rise in unemployment compared with the previous year, as can female graduates (+300) and male graduates (+200) of intermediate and higher educational establishments.

Unemployment will drop among individuals with a vocational qualification and a compulsory school leavers’ certificate.

The number of employees with compulsory schooling as their highest level of schooling continues to decline in 2019 (- 2 600).

The number of employees with apprenticeships is rising sharply compared with other levels of qualifications (+ 14 700). The number of employees with academic degrees (university, college, academy, university of applied sciences) is growing the fastest; an increase of 19 400 people is expected.

The highest increase in the number of employees will take place in the services sector (+13 500), followed by the production sector (+7 100); in the primary sector, the level of employment will stay approximately the same as the previous year (+100).

The essential soft skills in almost all areas and sectors include social and personal skills such as strong communication, customer focus, flexibility, ability to handle stress, a willingness to learn and intercultural skills (working in international teams), as well as excellent knowledge of English and other languages.

In healthcare, familiarity with medical information systems is important, as is experience with quality management, project management, and health promotion and care. In addition to psychological expertise, the most important qualities required are the ability to cope with frustration and good communication skills.

For the electronics/electrical engineering, telecommunications, information technology and machine/automotive/metal sectors, expertise in operating systems, use of computer systems, business management, energy and process engineering, quality management, etc. are essential.

In the construction and timber sector, expertise in the areas of building renovation, waste management, waste disposal and specific IT skills are advantageous. For the office, business, financial and legal sectors, additional technical knowledge is beneficial, as are business management, SAP and e-business skills.


Text last edited on: 05/2019

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