Exodus of working-age Hungarians causing labor shortages in western Hungary

August 3, 2016


Young and highly qualified people are leaving Hungary in large numbers. According to the latest research of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (Központi Statisztikai Hivatal – KSH), 50-70 percent of those emigrating are aged 20-39. This is especially true for new destinations such as The Netherlands or Ireland, while Germany, Austria and Switzerland are popular with older Hungarians seeking employment opportunities abroad.

Határátkelő, a blog of Hungarian expats, has published an article claiming there is basically no workforce left in counties near the Austrian border. According to their data, the situation is the worst in Vas and Győr-Moson-Sopron counties, where it is not only highly qualified people but every segment of society who are looking for a job in either Austria or  Slovakia.

From Hungary to Slovakia

Vas county is virtually devoid of workers.  Companies are trying to find employees at job fairs with little success. The situation is even worse in Győr-Moson-Sopron.

While a few years ago the main problem was finding highly qualified workers, the problem lately is finding anyone at all. Employers told Határátkelő that they can’t even hire people to perform menial labor.

Previously many Slovakians commuted to the industrial park in Győr.  Nowadays it is Hungarians that are commuting to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, and environs, home to numerous automotive plants.

Companies and the chamber of commerce are both looking for a solution. One possible answer would be to automatize factories, the other would be to pay higher wages. Yet, experts warn that at least a 30 percent increase in pay would be needed in order to lure Hungarian workers back.

Mexicans wanted

According to the KSH study, the number of Hungarian nationals living in European countries reached 330,000 at the beginning of 2014. Since then, their numbers could have reached 400,000 as a record number of Hungarians move to other EU countries. Most choose Austria, Germany and Great Britain as their new home.

In greater Budapest alone, there are 18,000 unfilled private sector jobs.  Even large multinational companies such as Tesco are struggling to find the workers needed to keep their businesses running.  A small village in Hungary has had to employ Mexican guest workers in a nearby factory because none of the Hungarians were qualified to do the job.