Unemployment in Austria remains low despite high inflation pressures

Austria's labour market is holding up against high inflation as the number of people out of work hits a 14-year low.

Unemployment in Austria remains low despite high inflation pressures
Unemployment in Austria has hit a 14-year low despite rising inflation. (Photo by Pixabay / Pexels)

The official unemployment rate in Austria is just six percent, according to new figures from the Public Employment Service (AMS).

This is the lowest unemployment figure for 14 years and shows the labour market is withstanding the current inflationary pressures, reports ORF.

At the end of October, 319,232 people were out of work or in training in Austria – around 22,000 less than one year ago, and 35,000 less than in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

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Johannes Kopf from AMS said the results point to “a few more months of joy” and referenced a strong construction market as one of the reasons for such low figures.

Unemployment in industry is currently down by 12 percent and job losses in trade have reduced by 10 percent. In hospitality and gastronomy, the number of people registered as unemployed only dropped by one percent, but in the area of temporary work, the rate was down by 14 percent.

In October, the number of job vacancies across the country was up by 10 percent when compared with October 2021.

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Additionally, long-term unemployment in Austria has almost halved since its peak in April 2021 when 148,436 people were registered as long-term unemployed. There are currently 78,201 people in this category.

The reduction in short-time work across Austria as companies recover from the pandemic lockdowns has also contributed to the low unemployment figure.

A flash estimate by Statistics Austria put the inflation rate for October at 11 percent. The high rate is being driven by rising global energy prices.

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EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Austria

Working as a freelancer in Austria is an attractive prospect for international residents. But the process might not be as easy as back home. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Austria

Anyone that has set up a business as a freelancer in Austria will know how confusing it can be. Especially if they are from countries like the UK and US where starting a business as a sole trader is fairly easy.

In Austria though, there are several steps to registering as self-employed, with limited information in English on how to navigate the process. 

So to help foreigners in Austria get started, we spoke to Vienna-based business consultant Miglena Hofer to break down the steps when registering as self-employed.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Austria?

Obtain a business licence (or not)

The first step to becoming self-employed in Austria is finding out if you need a business licence.

Sounds simple enough, right? But for those without strong German language skills, it can quickly become tricky.

Miglena Hofer told The Local: “There is a lack of information about the process in English, especially explanatory information. 

“In Austria there are also different types of self-employed people. The two main types are business owner and operator, and the new self-employed [such as writers, photographers].” 

“Almost everything requires a business licence in Austria. Even if you only intend to cover costs with your work, it still counts as a business.”

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The Ministry of Labour and Economics has a list of regulated trades that need a business licence in Austria (only available in German). Professions include electrician, hairdresser, florist and masseuse. 

If you do need a business licence, an application has to be submitted by the first day you plan to start working in your business. 

To apply for a licence, visit the Gewerbe­informations­system Austria (Business Information System Austria). This website has the option to translate the information into English.

Any professions that don’t require a business licence, like journalists, artists and teachers, are classed as new self-employed (Neu Selbständige) and can move on to the next steps.

Notify the tax office 

This involves filling in the form Verf24 and sending it to the tax office (Finanzamt) to inform them that you are self-employed. There is a deadline of four weeks after you have started operating for this part of the process.

You also have to make an appointment at the WKÖ (Austrian Economic Chamber) and become a member. This involves paying an annual fee (which varies depending on the type of business) and in some places, like in the Alps, you might have to pay a tourist tax.

However, finding information or help in English at this stage can be difficult, and business consultant Miglena advises anyone struggling to reach out for help.

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She said: “Many Austrians refuse to give advice in English, which is a curious thing. This applies to all kinds of professional services, but it’s important that we are understood.

“I don’t want people to be afraid. I want to make starting a business in Austria easy. Once you know how to do it, it’s fine. But it’s easy to feel lost and be overwhelmed by legal German words.”

Set up social insurance

The final stage in the process is to register with SVS – the social insurance fund for self-employed people in Austria.

It is mandatory for everyone living in Austria to have social insurance (or comprehensive private health insurance). It gives people access to public health care and includes pension contributions.

Registering with SVS has to take place within four weeks from the date of starting a business. You will then receive an e-card (if you don’t already have one) and start paying social insurance bills on a quarterly basis.

The good news about SVS payments though is that they are tax deductible, so don’t forget to include them in your bookkeeping.

Useful vocabulary

Business registration – Gewerbeanmeldung

Business licence – Gewerbeschein

New self-employed – Neu Selbständige

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Tax – Steuer

Tax office – Finanzamt

Useful links

Austrian tax office

Business Information System Austria (GISA)

Social insurance

Self-employed in Austria

Ministry of Labour and Economy