The number of job vacancies was slightly up in the fourth quarter of 2006. After correction for seasonal effects, there were 225 thousand job vacancies at the end of December. This is 6 thousand more than at the end of the previous quarter. This was now the fourth time in a row that the number of vacancies rose.
The number of vacancies increased by most in non-commercial services: this sector had 4 thousand more vacancies than in the previous quarter. The sector non-commercial services includes health care and public administration, among other things.
The labour market remains very active. Just as in preceding quarters, there was an increase in both new and filled vacancies compared to the same period last year. In the fourth quarter, 34 thousand extra jobs became available compared to the fourth quarter of 2005 and 30 thousand more job vacancies were filled. Altogether, 238 thousand vacancies were filled in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The vacancy rate is defined as the number of vacant jobs per one thousand jobs. It is indicative of the degree of tension on the labour market. For almost three years now, the vacancy rate has been higher than in the same quarter of the previous year. At the end of December 2006, there were 30 vacancies for every one thousand jobs, 7 more than at the end of 2005. There was a noticeable increase in the vacancy rate in manufacturing: from 17 in the fourth quarter of 2005 to 26 in the fourth quarter of 2006. This increase corresponds with a previously observed surge in manufacturing production and the optimism among manufacturing companies with respect to expected employment.
Job vacancies, seasonally adjusted