Monday, September 17, 2007

Romania Jobless Rate Rises as Drought Cuts Farm Jobs

By Adam Brown

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Romania's unemployment rate rose from a 15-year low in August as a drought that damaged most of the country's crops reduced the need for manual laborers to collect the harvest.

The rate rose to 3.9 percent in August from July's 3.8 percent, the lowest since 1992, the National Labor Agency said on its Web site today. Compared with a year earlier, unemployment fell from 5 percent.

A drought damaged four million of the six million hectares of crops planted in Romania this year, completely destroying at least one million hectares and reducing the need for workers, the institute said.

It said the unemployment rate may rise further toward the end of this year as the onset of colder weather reduces employment in the tourism and construction industries.

Still, Romanian unemployment is near the lowest in two years after the fall of communism in 1990, before the government started to close labor-intensive and unproductive coal mines and communist-era factories. Economic growth and increased foreign investment as Romania joined the European Union on Jan. 1 have helped lower unemployment from a peak of 13.5 percent in 2002.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Brown in Bucharest at abrown23@bloomberg.net

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