Austrian Labor Minister in Washington, D.C.

Minister for Labor Martin Kocher of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) was in Washington, D.C. this week for talks on post-pandemic job market recovery. He met U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, as well as representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

One area where the U.S. remains statistically ahead is in managing long-term unemployment, as Kurier reported. Prior to the pandemic, people in the U.S. were jobless for two months less than in Austria. And while in the U.S. only about 20% of unemployed people are out of work for more than six months, this share exceeds 40% in Austria (Eurostat, 2019).

“The labor market in the US is very dynamic,” Kocher said. He was interested in learning more about effective central mechanisms and support programs. “Our intent is to identify ideas that work well, but certainly not to copy the U.S.’s labor system.”

Kocher also visited Maryland for talks with Vice-Governor Boyd Rutherford and Maryland’s Labor Secretary, Tiffany Robinson.

In the U.S., unemployment benefits are available to those who lose their jobs “through no fault of their own,” as the Department of Labor website states, and who meet other “work and wage” eligibility requirements, many of which are set at a state level.

In 2021, the average weekly benefit payment in the U.S. was around 275 euros, as Kurier reported, and 223 euros in Austria (the average wage in Austria is also lower than in the United States, and benefits in both countries are pegged to previous wages).

In most U.S. states, programs provide “up to 26 weeks of benefits to unemployed workers and, on average, replaces half of a workers’ previous wages,” according to the Brookings Institution. In Austria, people receive between 20 and 52 weeks of benefits, set at around 55% of their last net income level.

Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.