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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 28, 2013
Business & Economy
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Picking up Speed
November 28, 2013   
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The Polish economy will expand by 1.3 percent this year, according to a November forecast by Poland’s central bank. This means that the country’s GDP growth will be the slowest since 2001. However, in the longer term, Poland’s GDP growth will clearly accelerate, the National Bank of Poland says, due to an improved situation abroad and an influx of funds from Brussels—under the newly approved financial strategy of the European Union for the 2014-2020 period. Next year, Poland’s GDP growth is projected at 2.9 percent, followed by 3.3 percent in 2015.

The steady improvement expected in the Polish economy is a cause for optimism, but it is necessary to remember that the country faces many challenges, including those related to its public finance deficit and the planned changes in the pension fund system. And now is not the best time for reforms because the government’s approval ratings have been falling in the polls.

One positive sign is that the economic downturn has not resulted in a rise in unemployment. October was the eighth straight month with a decrease in the number of jobless. Admittedly, the drop was too small to bring down the unemployment rate, which continues to run at 13 percent.

Although Poland’s unemployment rate was in single-digit territory a few years ago, its present level is not shockingly high. The bad news is that unemployment has hit young people the hardest. According to Eurostat, the EU statistics office, 26.3 percent of young people in Poland were jobless in September. That’s more than the EU average of 23.5 percent. Of course, there are countries where the situation is much worse. For example, in Greece, unemployment among young people was an appalling 57.3 percent in the summer, and in Spain it stood at 56.5 percent. The lowest unemployment rate among young people was in Germany, at 7.7 percent, followed by Austria with 8.7 percent.

Still, it needs to be kept in mind that Poland’s unemployment rate would be much higher were it not for the large number of people leaving the country to work abroad. It is estimated that more than 1.8 million Poles are temporarily living and working in other EU countries. The majority of those who have gone abroad in recent years are young people, most of them well educated and fluent in foreign languages. They are all contributing to economic growth in Britain, Ireland or Germany instead of Poland.
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