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Image © Pavle/Adobe Stock Photos
Image © Pavle/Adobe Stock Photos

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Austria notes highest decrease of working hours and sharp decrease in trust in national government during COVID-19

Weekly working hours in Austria decreased by 2.6 hours at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (quarter 2 2020) as compared to the same time of the previous year. This was the largest decrease in the EU and far beyond the EU average of -0.9 hours, as reported by a joint Eurofound and European Commission report (What just happened? COVID-19 lockdowns and change in the labour market), which describes the employment and working time developments by sector and occupation through the first year of the crisis.

The trend of declining working hours continued throughout 2020, however, less sharp than in the second quarter. In quarter 4, Austria noted a 1.8 hour decrease in working time compared to quarter 4 of 2019, while the EU average was -0.5 hours. Around two-thirds of the decline in hours worked at the peak of the crisis can be attributed to the increase in the share of employed workers not working, i.e. furloughed workers.

The report also finds that furloughing was heavily concentrated in lower-paid jobs and especially among lower-paid women. Half of female furloughed workers (4.2 million in EU27) in quarter two of 2020 were working in the lowest-paid 20% of jobs compared with less than 30% of male furloughed workers. Additionally, in some countries, like Austria, women are overrepresented in closed sectors (61%), such as hotels, restaurants and accommodation, estate and travel agencies, and leisure and recreation services. Other countries above the EU average of 57% are Finland (63%) and the eastern European Member States, for example Latvia and Lithuania (both 70%).

Austria also has the fifth highest proportion (14.8%) of employees working from home during the pandemic, only behind Finland, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Denmark. Similar results came from Eurofound’s large-scale Living, working and COVID-19 online surveyin spring of 2021, which found an increase in the proportion of people combining working from the employer’s premises and from home in spring 2021 – a mode of work that was markedly more common in western than in eastern Member States, especially in Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands.

The third round of the unique pan-EU survey was fielded in February and March 2021 and the analysis is based on a sample of 46,800 responses, and an overall sample of 138,629 across all three rounds. It sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions.

In the area of trust in institutions, Austria recorded one of the largest decreases of trust in the national government compared to other EU Member States between summer 2020 and spring 2021, from 5.4 to 3.6. Similarly, trust in the EU fell to 3.8 in the third round (from 4.8 in the second), marking the fourth lowest trust rating behind Greece, Czechia and Croatia.

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Anna Gallinat

Anna Gallinat

Communication Project Officer

Eurofound, a tripartite European Union Agency, provides knowledge to assist in the development of social, employment and work-related policies

Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) is a tripartite EU body, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies.

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