Published: 5 June 2013

High level of education protects against unemployment

According to Statistics Finland's employment statistics, there were 2.3 million employed persons in the 18 to 64 age group at the end of 2011. One year later 88,000 of them were unemployed. In all, 4.4 per cent of employed men and 3.1 per cent of employed women became unemployed during the year. At the end of 2012, a total of 280,000 persons in the 18 to 64 age group were unemployed. The data on unemployment in the employment statistics derive from the Register of Job Seekers of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Risk of unemployment for persons aged 18 to 64 at the end of 2012 according to the main type of activity at the end of 2011 (%)

Risk of unemployment for persons aged 18 to 64 at the end of 2012 according to the main type of activity at the end of 2011 (%)

Risk of unemployment for employed persons is below the average of the population

For employed persons the risk of unemployment (3.8 %), meaning the share of persons becoming unemployed during the year, was more than one-half lower than for the population on average. Of all 3.3 million persons aged between 18 and 64 and living permanently in Finland at the end of 2011, 8.3 per cent were unemployed at the end of the year 2012. Among men, the share was 9.6 per cent and among women 6.9 per cent. When viewing the main type of activity at the end of 2011, the unemployment risk was lowest for pensioners (0.4 %) and highest for the unemployed of whom 54.3 per cent were still unemployed after one year. Among unemployed men, the risk to remain unemployed was 57.5 per cent and among women 49.9 per cent.

Low level of education increases the risk of unemployment

The risk of unemployment differed depending on the level of education both among the entire population and among employed persons. When examining all persons aged 18 to 64, 21.0 per cent had not completed post-basic level education at the end of 2011. Persons for whom data on education are not known are also included in this group in the classification of level of education. The share of persons who had not completed post-basic level education among the employed was 14.2 per cent. Of those employed who had become unemployed at the end of 2012, 22.6 per cent had not completed post-basic level education. Persons without post-basic level education have had more difficulties in finding employment than others. In addition, the unemployment risk of persons with low level of education was higher than the average.

The share of persons with upper secondary level education was the same for the whole population aged 18 to 64 and for the employed population of the same age, 46.6 per cent. Among employed persons who had become unemployed, the share of persons with upper secondary level education was higher, 53.8 per cent. The share of persons with at least the lowest level tertiary degree among the employed was 39.2 per cent. Among the entire population, the share of such persons was 6.8 percentage points lower. Among employed persons who had become unemployed, the share of persons with tertiary degree was 23.6 per cent.

The risk of becoming unemployed decreased as the level of education under review increased. The risk of unemployment for persons without post-basic level education was 6.0 per cent while the risk for persons with at least higher-degree level tertiary qualifications was 2.0 per cent. As an exception to this, the unemployment risk of those with lower-degree level tertiary education (2.5 %) was higher than the risk of those having the lowest level of tertiary education (2.3 %). The share of persons with at least higher-degree level tertiary education of all employed persons who became unemployed was low: 5.3 per cent of men (2,700 persons) and 9.1 per cent of women (3,300 persons).

Level of education distribution of persons who were employed at the end of 2011 and unemployed at the end of 2012 by sex (%)

Level of education distribution of persons who were employed at the end of 2011 and unemployed at the end of 2012 by sex (%)

Unemployment risk for young highly educated women higher than for men

For employed men and women, the risk of unemployment was highest in the age group 18 to 29 and lowest in the age group 30 to 49. Employed persons who had not completed post-basic level education were more likely to become unemployed in the youngest age group (7.0 % of those aged 18 to 29) than those in the oldest age group (5.1 % of those aged 50 to 64). Among the highest educated women, the risk of unemployment was lowest for those aged 50 to 64 (1.6 %), while for the highest educated men the risk was lowest for those aged 18 to 29 (1.6 %). For employed men with at least higher-degree level tertiary degree, the risk was highest for persons in the 30 to 49 age group (2.1 %) and for women in the age group 18 to 29 (2.7 %).

The risk of unemployment for employed men was higher than for women in nearly all age and education level groups. The exception was those aged 30 to 49 without post-basic level education. The risk was 0.1 percentage points higher for women. The risk for women was also higher among young employed persons with at least higher-degree level tertiary degree: of men aged 18 to 29 with at least higher-degree level tertiary education, 1.6 per cent became unemployed and of women in the same group 2.7 per cent. A similar difference was also visible for the entire population aged 18 to 64; the unemployment risk of young highly educated women was 4.5 per cent while it was 3.0 per cent for young men.


Source: Employment Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Aura Pasila 09 1734 3576, tyossakaynti@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

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Updated 17.6.2013

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Employment [e-publication].
ISSN=2323-6825. Background information on unemployed persons 2012. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 25.8.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/tyokay/2012/02/tyokay_2012_02_2013-06-05_tie_001_en.html