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As mentioned in the National Reform Plan 2020, Cyprus, like most states, is in a highly challenging period following the outbreak of the COVID -19 crisis. In 2019, the Cyprus economy grew at a satisfactory rate, 3,2%, and the labour market continued to perform strongly with unemployment, including youth unemployment, declining markedly. The improvement of the quality of the Active Labour Market Policies, particularly for young people is including in the main reform priorities presented in the National Reform Plan.
Labour market conditions continued to improve in 2019 as a result of the continuous economic growth. Specifically, employment (age 15+) in persons increased by 3.9% (15,600 persons) in 2019 while the employment rate reached 75.7% compared to 73.9% in 2018, meeting the national employment target range. The employment rate of young people (15-24) increased by 1,1 percentage point (p.p) to 32.4% in 2019, compared to 31.3% in 2018 while the youth employment in absolute numbers remained the same (30,209 persons in 2019 compared to 30,202 persons in 2018).
As regards the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) for the age group 15-24, this was 13.2% in 2018 exhibiting a descending trend. The unemployment rate decreased for both genders and in particular to 6.3% for men and to 8.0% for women while the total unemployment rate decreased to 7.1% in 2019 compared to 8.4% in 2018. Young people (15-24) have also experienced a great drop in the unemployment rate which reached the level of 16.6% in 2019 from 20.2% in 2018. The share of long-term unemployed to total unemployed indicated also a decrease to 29.1% in 2019 from 31.7% in 2018, resulting in the very low level of the long-term unemployment ratio of 2.1% in 2019 from 2.7% in 2018. The registered unemployment continued its declining trend in 2019 since the monthly average number of registered unemployed in 2019 exhibited a decrease of 17% (or 4,445 persons) reaching the level of 22,321 persons compared to 26,766 persons in 2018.
In December 2020, as announced on the official website of the Statistical Service of Cyprus, there were 30,746 registered unemployed people. In particular, there were 175 unemployed under 20 years old, 2.109 unemployed between 20-24 years old, 4.626 unemployed aged between 25-29 years old and 9.217 unemployed aged between 30-39 years old. This indicates that young people represent a significant part of the unemployed population in the country.
In Cyprus, every young person from the age of 14 has the right to work, as defined by the Law on the Protection of Young Persons in the Employment. (Ο Περί Προστασίας των Νέων κατά την Απασχόληση Νόμος). However, some young people still find it hard to get a job, especially young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). After the financial crisis, Cyprus continues its efforts to tackle unemployment and modernise and enhance its Public Employment Services (PES) through the strengthening of its human and technical capacity and also exploring the potential to improve efficiency in service provision, the performance of PES as well as reinforcing outreach and activation support for young people who are NEETs. At the same time, a significant effort to encourage young people engage in entrepreneurship is put by government.