From: Johannes Estrada
Rama’s Claims about Unemployment Are Not Supported by Facts

During his new year’s press conference, Prime Minister Edi Rama has repeated his claim that there is work available in Albania, but that Albanians don’t look for it. He declared that there are more than 36,000 available jobs without giving any further details as to where this number comes from are where these jobs can be found.

Ever since coming to power, Prime Minister Rama and his ministers have used the “laziness” and “inability” of the Albanians as the main explanation of unemployment, thus avoiding responsibility for the underlying economical problems. This argument, however, doesn’t hold.

Labor is a product that just like any other product is traded on the market. The absence of a product causes an increase in price. So in the case of labor, if there are indeed 36,000 jobs available, this would cause a rise in salaries such that those who were previously not motivated to work now choose to do so.

The official statistical data from INSTAT, however, show that salaries in all sectors of the economy have remained the same for the last few years, nor did change during 2016. On the contrary, real income – that is, income minus the effects of inflation – has fallen over the last few years. In the public sector, salaries have not been fully corrected for inflation, while in the private sector pay raises have been completely absent over the last 2–3 years. (In fact, the government didn’t raise the salaries of public servants at all during the first years of its government, and only made an insufficient correction just in time for the elections of next year.)

Salary levels are not the only indicators that contradict the Prime Minister’s claims. Unemployment indicators show a labor market without any perceivable movement, even though these data are more problematic owing to the high level of informality in the market.

In any case, whichever economic indicator you look at, the fairytale told by Rama is just as untrue now as it was in the beginning of 2016.