Malta Reaches Record Low Unemployment

Over the past decade, through the Eurozone crisis and recovery, Malta has managed to maintain record low rates of unemployment compared to its European neighbours. This year, the small island nation boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the euro area and the second lowest in the entire EU.

Malta hit another record low unemployment rate this year at 3.3 percent in March, when the latest measures were taken. The Mediterranean nation leads the Eurozone with the lowest unemployment rate in the group and boasts the second lowest in the European Union, behind the Czech Republic and ahead of Germany, which came in third.

The youth unemployment rate in Malta – people under 25 – remains higher than overall unemployment, at 8.8 percent, and falls behind Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. Still, the country’s youth unemployment is down from 11 percent in March 2017 and is much lower than the euro area average rate of 17.3 percent.

Malta’s low debt-to-GDP ratio and a financially sound banking system allowed it to weather the Eurozone crisis better than most other EU member states, helping to lead to these low unemployment figures. From 2014 to 2016, Malta led the Eurozone in growth, expanding more than 4.5 percent per year.

The Maltese economy is also relatively open and well diversified. The services sector – tourism, transportation, remote gaming, financial services, and ICT (information and communications technology) – amounted to a majority percentage of GDP in 2016 of just over 88 percent. In recent years, the sector has become more export-oriented, with the majority of outbound sales going to other EU member states.

Despite the fact that Malta is part of the former British Commonwealth system, its trade with the UK is surprising low (3.3%) relative to other countries. As Malta becomes a more export-based economy, its biggest trading partners are the United States (23%) followed by Germany (12%), Egypt (9.3%), Italy (6.4%) and Singapore (4.7%). Copyright: AlexLMX/

While the country has consistently maintained low unemployment numbers, it has one of the highest employment gaps by gender in the EU. In 2017, nearly 80 percent of males aged 15-64 were employed in Malta; whereas only 55 percent of females in the same age range were employed.

However, Malta’s unemployment rate for men and women is relatively equal, with females having a slightly lower rate (3.1 percent) than males (3.5 percent). This is because the unemployment numbers only take into account people actively looking for work; whereas the employment gap figures take into account people like stay-at-home moms.

As the EU continues to recover from the Eurozone crisis, overall unemployment in the euro area and EU is falling. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the euro area was 8.5 percent this March – down from 9.4 percent in March 2017, making it the lowest recorded rate in the euro area in nearly a decade.

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Kaitlin Lavinder

Kaitlin is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She holds an MA in International Economics and European Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and previously worked as a national security reporter and Europe analyst. She has conducted on the ground research in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

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