The number of people in work in Poland fell much more than expected in April, data showed on Wednesday, as what had until recently been a fast-growing jobs market posted its first decline since 2013 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Corporate employment fell by 2.1% year-on-year to 6.259 million people last month, the statistics office data showed, against an analysts’ forecast of a 0.5% decline. It was the steepest fall since November 2009.
In monthly terms, corporate employment fell by 2.4%.
April’s economic data show the extent of the hit the largest economy in the EU’s eastern wing has taken from the coronavirus pandemic. Poland started introducing lockdown restrictions in mid-March and they continued through the whole of April.
“The data is disrupted by the noise associated with the epidemic situation, not a reflection of pure trends in the labour market, because this sharp decline in employment is also associated with unpaid leave, sick leave and time taken off by parents due to school closures,” said Urszula Krynska, an economist at state lender PKO BP.
“In April we saw the bottom of the economic downturn…But we can see this is no longer a market for employees.”
The employment data follows a bleak April IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which showed the rate of job cuts in Poland was close to the record posted in April 1999.
Polish corporate sector wages rose by an annual 1.9% in April to an average of 5,285 zlotys ($1,270) per month, below analysts’ expectations of 4.5%, statistics office data showed on Wednesday. In monthly terms, wages fell by 3.7%.
“We expected a slowdown in wage growth, but not at such a fast pace. You can see that many companies have made decisions about pay cuts,” said Piotr Piekos, senior economist at state Bank Pekao.