Labour Market in CEE-17

In the following chapter Randstad together with it's partner companies Ancor and Staffpoint, have provided a country-by-country overview of various labour market conditions and trends across the CEE-17 region. The description is supported by data illustrating the salary levels within the production and logistics sectors for both blue and white collar workers.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates reported by Eurostat in July 2020 across CEE were the lowest in the Czech Republic at 2%, followed by Poland at 3.2%. Rates of below 5% were also reported in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. At the same time, salaries have increased, in some years, reaching double digit growth. Candidates have started to become aware of their value on the scarce labor market and have become more selective in terms of their future employers. With numerous possibilities available, even though the salary remains to be the main selection criteria, other factors have started to play an important role. These include the company’s reputation on the market, good working conditions and atmosphere, career progression opportunities and work-life balance.

Skilled, blue-collar candidates remain the biggest challenge in terms of recruitment for the production and logistics industries. After the fall of the vocational school system in most of the countries, the availability of skilled employees is slowly growing thanks to the efforts of employers, who train their personnel, on a regular basis to ensure production continuity. There is also a relentless need for engineering and R&D roles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on labour markets. Production stoppages have forced companies to reorganize their workforces. Although a reduction of part of the personnel might seem like the quickest solution to cut costs, most of the companies were hesitant to do so, having in mind the effort and funds invested in building up their teams. Instead, reductions in salaries and hours worked, asking employees to use up their outstanding holidays and freezing bonus systems were introduced. Many companies stopped using contingent workforce and utilizing the advantage of flexibility in such contracts. As a result, and rather surprisingly for many, the pool of available candidates didn’t increase as much as one would expect and unemployment rates went up but remained relatively steady. Candidates coming from different industries also hit hard by the pandemic, like the HoReCa sector, were not interested in taking jobs in production or logistics. There were also other industries that had growing needs for personnel during that time, like pharmaceutics, medical equipment and e-commerce.

Currently, as the situation is slowly improving, we are again observing limited availability of the most desired positions on the market. However, companies are rather rebuilding their workforce than increasing headcount, still having in mind the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19. As a result, we predict that the temporary workforce will become an even more popular solution on the market. The pandemic also made further changes to the way employees look at their future employers. In the near future, we expect that job security and a company’s financial stability will close the gap to the salary and benefits in the job selection criteria.

Key contacts

Paweł Kopeć
Head of Enterprise Solutions Center | Randstad Polska
Raluca Dumitrescu
Business Development Manager | Randstad Romania


Payments in Latvia 

PRODUCTION | Monthly gross salary in EUR
unskilled production operator7001,0501,200
skilled production operator1,1001,4002,880
team leader/foreman1,5002,0002,200
plant manager1,9003,3004,000
production manager2,0002,8003,200
production/process engineer1,4001,7002,000
LOGISTIC | Monthly gross salary in EUR
warehouse worker6008001,050
forklift operator9401,2001,400
team leader/foreman1,1001,5001,900
logistics specialist1,6001,7002,200
warehouse manager1,7502,1502,500
distribution center manager2,8003,500    -


Over the past 12 months we have observed a decrease in salaries for both white- and blue-collar roles in the logistics and production sectors. In comparison with the previous quarter, salaries in production have decreased by 6.6%, while salaries in transportation and storage decreased by 2.4%. In comparison to Q2 2019, a decrease of 10% has been recorded in both the production and logistics sectors.

At the same time, it should be noted that the support measures introduced so far have generally mitigated the negative effects of the pandemic on the labour market. By the 18th of May this year, more than 45,000 workers and the self-employed had received a downtime allowance, which has partly ensured the preservation of jobs and income during the emergency period.

Data from the Labour Force Survey conducted by the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) show that in June 2020 the unemployment rate reached 9.8%, which is 0.2 pp more than in May. The unemployment rate registered by the State Employment Agency (SEA) was reported as 8.6%, and, when compared to May, it has also risen by 0.2 pp. The unemployment rate increase can also be observed when comparing the data to June 2019 which reflects increases of 3.5 pp in the actual unemployment rate and 2.6 pp in the registered unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, both the registered unemployment rates and the dynamics of registered vacancies in general show that the situation in the labour market is gradually stabilizing. According to the State Employment Agency, the growth in the number of registered jobseekers in May has been almost three times slower than in April. However, from the beginning of May this year, the number of registered vacancies has stabilized and is resuming growth. Between the 5th and 21st of May, the number of vacancies increased by more than 2,000.

Riga, as a metropolitan area in a small country, has a very high concentration of production (70% of country total) and logistics (60% of country total). In the Western coastal city of Ventspils, there has been a shortage of logistics specialists but, due to the recent redundancies, the situation has changed. Blue-collar workers and sales engineers are the most sought after by clients in the logistics and production sectors in Latvia.