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Unemployment to fall to 8.7% this year - Economics Ministry

In late February Latvia's unemployment rate was 9.2%, and the Economics Ministry expects the number to drop to 8.7% this year, reported Latvian Radio 4's Natalya Mescheryakova Tuesday.

The number of people in employment is continuing to grow, and the Economics Ministry forecasts that this year the number of employed people in Latvia will reach 902,000 people.

"Mostly the number of jobs has grown in the areas of trade and commercial services. It's likely such a tendency will continue and the number of jobless people will continue to shrink," said Normunds Ozols, a representative of the ministry.

However there's a darker side to the decrease in unemployment as well, because the number is falling as Latvia's population is dwindling.

"The demographic tendencies have become the main factor thanks to which the unemployment level is dropping. It was only on a lesser degree influenced by growing employment," said Ozols. 

While Pēteris Strautiņš, an economist at DNB bank, told Latvian Radio 4 that Latvia's economy is growing due to increases in productivity, and that it will keep growing even without jobs being added. He said that the number of jobs could increase if the construction industry sees growth due to changes in banking, real estate, and people's wages.

At any rate, if construction does grow, it will do so most in the 2017-2019 period when the new EU funds period kicks in. 

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