Estonia: Employment service expands
Estonia has enjoyed relatively low unemployment in recent years, partly because it has been easy for Estonians to find work in Finland, which is nearby and has a similar language. This is now rapidly changing due to the economic crisis, and the rise in the number of unemployed is leading to economic stress for families and public finances. Employee and employer contributions to the unemployment insurance fund are being more than tripled, from 0.6% to 3% for employees.
The growth has also put extra pressure on employment offices. By early 2009 people had to wait for over a month before they were given any support for finding a job. One response is that the number of employment offices in Tallinn will be doubled. The employment service is also being transformed into an autonomous agency: existing staff will be transferred out of the civil service to the new agency, but with large increases in salary. Through extra premises and extra pay it is expected that the service will be able to cope with the higher demand.