Labour Market Measures in Poland 2008–13: The Crisis and Beyond

The overall picture of the Polish labour market has been shaped by outcomes of the economic transition, which started in the early 1990s. First, rapid privatization and capital inflows induced remarkable technology and productivity improvements, which generated fast, albeit jobless growth. Second, deindustrial­ization and the collapse of many outdated industries (large parts of the heavy and textile industries, automotive production and many more) and quick emergence of the service sector created an environment of rapidly shifting labour demand, to which the labour supply encountered major difficulties in adjusting. Many of the unemployed were lost among the new rules and got discouraged from entering the labour market, while the state offered no aid to help them return to employment. As a consequence, high structural unemployment and a low participation rate have become immanent features of the labour market in the last two decades. At the same time, the social security and pension systems remained “full of holes”, which was widely seen as attractive and a relatively easy way of securing subsistence for those excluded from the labour market.