In addition to the disruption it has caused to people's lives, families and communities and the ongoing threat to health, the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on business activity and the economy of Cyprus as a whole in 2021. The Cypriot economy shrank by 5.3% in 2020, like all European economies, showing the negative impact on the excellent performance recorded in 2018 and 2019, as well as on the recovery that was expected following the 2013-16 economic crisis. 2021 was otherwise a much better year than 2020.
In the first half of 2021, the economy of Cyprus showed a positive growth rate of 4.8%. In 2021 overall, the growth rate was 5.5% in real terms compared to the corresponding recession of 2020.
According to Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, the unemployment rate in the 3rd semester of 2021 stood at 6.5% (7.6% in 2020).
The share of the long-term unemployed in the labour force in the second quarter of 2021 increased to 3.0%, from 1.8% in the corresponding quarter of 2020, while unemployment among young people stood at approximately 15.0% in the second quarter of 2021, compared to 17.8% in the corresponding quarter of 2020.
Thus far (March 2022), it can be said that the general rate of unemployment in Cyprus has remained low, at 6.5%.
The mobility of employees in Cyprus in general (whether incoming or outgoing) also suffered a serious blow in 2021, given that most of the economic sectors in Cyprus which usually recruit staff from the EU on a seasonal basis have been severely affected by the pandemic (tourism, catering, leisure and construction). Lastly, market uncertainty and the unknown factors around the potential return to normality have led many employers in a number of economic sectors to halt recruitment of new staff, and instead to attempt to retain existing staff in their businesses (using state subsidies), focusing more on the local labour market to meet any increased needs they might face.
The average unemployment rate in 2018 stood at 8.4%, compared to 11.1% in 2017, 12.9% in 2016, 14.9% in 2015, 16.1% in 2014 and 15.9% in 2013.
According to data kept by the District Labour Offices, 15 556 persons were registered as unemployed in late February 2022. Compared to January 2021, this represents a 50% fall from the previous year, largely compensating for the negative impact of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. . The unemployment rate for young people aged 15-24 was 15.5% in the third quarter of 2022, down 5 percentage points, an improvement over 2019 when it reached 16.8%.
The level of employment (15+) in the third quarter of 2021 increased to 73%, compared to 2020 when the level was 70.1%.
The highest concentration of unemployed persons was recorded in the hotel sector, as well as in trade and other services, whereas the highest concentration of unemployed persons by age was in the groups 30-39 and 40-49 years.
Greek Cypriots accounted for the majority of the unemployed population, totalling 12 596 persons (71%). Of the total unemployed population, 3 853 persons (19%) were European citizens.
In February 2022, there were 8 542 job vacancies posted on the PES network, almost 3 000 more than last year. This demonstrates a recovery in the economy after the pandemic as well as a recovery in the labour market, especially regarding job vacancies in the tourism and services sectors. The best employment prospects forecast for 2021 in lower education level occupations are in the following categories:
- Warehouse workers/transport workers/production assistants
- Skilled construction workers
- Kitchen assistants, employees in hotel and restaurant services of all specialties
- Infant nurses/care workers in institutions/assistants in surgeries
- Hospital and other medical staff
- Secretarial staff
- Domestic workers
The best employment prospects forecast for 2021 in higher education level occupations are in the following categories:
- Technical services consultants, programmers
- Computer specialists
- Nurses, doctors and specialist medical staff
- Telecommunications/mobile phone technicians
- Electrical engineers
- Engineers of various specialisations
- Economists / business managers / marketing executives
- Executives of shipping companies
- Financial professions/accountants
- Employees in medical centres, clinical laboratories and other medical and paramedical centres
Those most willing to move to find work in Europe are young higher education graduates. In most cases these people do not have much work experience in their field of study. The most widespread foreign spoken language is English.
Those most willing to move are young men between the ages of 21 and 35. According to the Public Employment Service website, in February 2022, 1 054 unemployed persons have declared their desire to find work in Cyprus and in Europe. This percentage accounts for just 5% of the total number of registered unemployed persons, which reflects the fact that Cypriots are reluctant to relocate to a different country in order to find work, but also that it is relatively easy to find work in Cyprus.