The unemployment rate in Croatia reached 22.7 percent in February, the worst in the past 12 years in the country and one of the highest unemployment rates in the European Union (EU), official figures indicated.
According to the latest statistics published Friday by the National Statistics Bureau, the 22.7-percent unemployment rate in February is 0.3 percent higher than the figure in January.
The Croatian Employment Agency said there were 384,376 unemployed persons in February. The total work force in the country with a population of 4.3 million stands at 1.7 million.
The unemployment rate in Croatia averaged 18.22 percent from 1996 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 23.6 percent in January, 2002, and a record low of 12.2 percent in July, 2008.
The National Statistics Bureau in Zagreb announced that February is the sixth month in a row that has an increase in unemployment. This negative trend is expected to stop in March as the seasonal employment starts and the employment numbers get better.
People who will be employed in tourism industry, the vital part of the Croatian economy, will improve the national statistics.
Labor and Social Care Minister Mirando Mrsic said on Friday that he is looking forward to the change of trend, as it means the unemployment rates will start dropping from March onwards, until the end of tourism season in October.
Croatia has the second worst record in youth unemployment in the EU. Only Spain has the worst numbers as Croatia has 40 percent of unemployed youth.
With the EU borders opened and the wider possibility of getting employment abroad, Croatia is faced with the post-EU entry brain drain.
The economic perspectives are gloomy too as Moody's Investors Service on Friday changed the outlook on Croatia's Ba1 government bond rating to negative from stable.
Finance Minister Slavko Linic said it is hard to expect any different rating unless Croatia achieves economic growth and implements structural reforms.
Deputy Prime Minister Branko Grcic said on Saturday "the government is doing everything possible to implement structural reforms and start the economy. We need healthy environment to stimulate growth and turn things in right direction