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Government surpasses jobs goal
The government has met its goal of creating 12,500 jobs (akutjobs) for those in danger of losing unemployment benefits (dagpenge) due to changes in the system that kicked in at the start of this year. According to figures from the national labour market regulator, Arbejdsmarkedsstyrelsen, 12,731 akutjobs had been advertised by February 6.
The government’s job creation plan (akutpakke) was introduced in October in an attempt to create jobs for the thousands of people who would be unable to collect unemployment benefits after the end of last year, when a new two-year limit for receiving benefits kicked in.
The government set a goal of creating the 12,500 jobs in the first six months of 2013, but has apparently reached that target within just six weeks of the new year.
The numbers reveal that there is a large discrepancy between the numbers of jobs created by the private and public sectors. Although private sector leaders pledged to create 7,500 jobs, they have thus far only managed to rustle up 3,744 jobs. The public sector has posted nearly 9,000 open positions, far more than the 5,000 required in the emergency jobs package.
Although the jobs are supposed to be earmarked for long-term unemployed workers about to fall out of the system, anyone may apply for an open position and a recent study by the weekly newsletter Ugebrevet A4 revealed that only one in five of the positions were being filled by those for whom the jobs were actually created. There are no official records kept about who is actually filling the jobs.
Under the terms of the plan, businesses are awarded 25,000 kroner for employing a long-term unemployed person, provided they work at least 32 hours a week for over 12 months. Companies receive 12,500 kroner for employing a person for six months.
Meanwhile, another study showed that the overall unemployment rate now stands at its lowest point in three years. A look at the overall workforce by Statistics Denmark showed that the number of those out of work fell by 9,000 in the final quarter of last year when compared to the previous quarter.
Compared with the same quarter last year, unemployment fell by 16,000 workers, causing some analysts to express cautious optimism that the economy is turning around.
One Danske Bank economist, however, felt that it was too early to be popping Champagne corks.
“It is a continuation of the recent trend where things improve one quarter only to decline the next. The wider picture remains more or less flat,” Jens Nærvig Pedersen told Ritzau.
Some 208,000 people were listed as unemployed during the fourth quarter of 2012, representing 7.4 percent of the total workforce. The decline in unemployment last year occurred mainly among those who had been receiving unemployment benefits or social assistance.
The positive numbers reflect only those that were actively looking for work, and one analyst says that they do not reflect the true picture.
“There were 784,000 people outside of the labour force in the fourth quarter,” Nordea senior analyst Jan Størup Nielsen told Ritzau. “This is the highest level measured since statistics have been kept, which dates back to 1996, and they indicate that an increasing number of people have simply given up on trying to get a foothold in the labour market.”