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Short-time Employment Dominates Labour Market in Austria

Listed author(s):
  • Christine Mayrhuber


  • Thomas Url


Registered author(s):

    The analysis brought to light unexpectedly short employment periods in the Austrian labour market: on average, an employment terminated in 1997 had been effective for just 1.8 years. Unsurprisingly, average employment was very short in the sectors with traditional seasonal employment. What came as a surprise, however, was the fact that employment periods in the expanding services industries (company-related services, data processing, etc.) were also markedly below the overall average. The retail business is similarly characterised by short employment spells. The "longest" – albeit still very short – employment periods can be found in those sectors whose institutional framework provides for some degree of job security: here the list is topped by the insurance industry, where employment periods were 4.9 years on average, closely followed by energy and water utility industries and the credit sector. Short employment periods are, however, not limited to construction and tourism, the traditional sectors with seasonal employment. Rather, strong signs were found of labour market segmentation across all economic sectors. Taking the duration of employment as a yardstick, at least two segments, and thus at least two groups of employees, can be distinguished in the Austrian labour market: on the one hand, the stable primary labour market segment, with average employment periods of 12.4 years; on the other hand an uncertain secondary labour market with average employment periods of 2.6 years. Within the latter, a special group is made up by seasonal workers whose average employment spell is just 4 months. The segmentation of the Austrian labour market applies equally for women and men: both work short periods in seasonal jobs. In the secondary segment, women are employed slightly longer than men, at 2.7 and 2.5 years, respectively. In the secure segment, men enjoy a slight advantage over women, at 12.6 and 12.1 years, respectively. In view of these very short employment periods, an even greater increase in labour mobility through economic and social policy measures would run counter to efforts of efficiency. Mobility in terms of time spend on the same job is governed by the production process. Efficient production requires a certain pool of company-specific human resources, i.e., job-linked qualifications. Greater mobility would reduce the productivity of a company and it would mean constant training of new workers. For companies, greater mobility would thus mean greater costs from fluctuation and hencea decline in productivity.

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    Article provided by WIFO in its journal WIFO-Monatsberichte.

    Volume (Year): 72 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 10 (October)
    Pages: 693-703

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    Handle: RePEc:wfo:monber:y:1999:i:10:p:693-703
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    1. Booth, Alison L & Francesconi, Marco & Garcia-Serrano, Carlos, 1997. "Job Tenure: Does History Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1531, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Boeri, Tito, 1999. "Enforcement of employment security regulations, on-the-job search and unemployment duration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 65-89, January.
    3. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    4. Stephen W. Salant, 1977. "Search Theory and Duration Data: A Theory of Sorts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-57.
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