- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
Newly released figures show that almost a third of working age Serbians are unemployed, while one economist warns the situation may not improve in the coming year.
As many as 172,422 people lost their jobs in Serbia in 2012, data from the National Employment Agency, NSZ, data has shown.
The official figure does not reflect those individuals who lost their jobs but did not register at the NSZ, which pushes the actual number of unemployed even higher. There are 2.8 million people of working age in Serbia, a country of about seven million.
According to the survey, those working in the construction, textile, metal and hospitality industries have been the hardest hit by the job losses.
As many as 4,267 people with university diplomas lost their jobs, the statistics show.
Prior to 2012, the country already had 755,442 unemployed individuals; with the addition of the 2012 figures, one-third of the total working age population is now jobless.
Mladjan Dinkic, Serbia's Finance Minister, said on Tuesday that the government will increase living standards and stop the rise in unemployment by stablizing public finances, increasing exports and attracting more foreign investments.
But Milan Kovacevic, an expert in foreign investment, said he had doubts that unemployment would decline next year under the current economic policy.
"The government has stabilized public finances by increasing taxes so we have a situation in which the economy could be even worse off next year," Kovacevic said, adding that no major foreign investments were in sight.
Kovacevic predicts that unemployment will continue to grow until the government implements systemic reforms of the economy, such as development of the real sector of the economy producing for the market and a rapid re-industrialization.
In the region, the situation is worse only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where nearly half the population is unemployed, and in Macedonia, where the unemployment rate has long exceeded 31 per cent.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.