Photo: Sami Kelhä, Ilmarinen


In January, businesses within the Ilmarinen Economic Index experienced a 2.6% decrease in workforce numbers compared to the previous year, continuing a trend of employment challenges across Finland. The most significant declines were observed in the staffing services, construction, and hospitality sectors. Regionally, the largest drops in workforce numbers were seen in Eastern and Northern Finland.

The Ilmarinen Economic Index, which tracks the performance of over 60,000 companies employing around 500,000 workers, provides up-to-date information on the state of the Finnish economy. Despite a slight improvement from December's 2.8% decline, January's figures underscore ongoing economic concerns.

Jouni Vatanen, a researcher at Ilmarinen, highlighted the widespread nature of the decline, affecting nearly all monitored sectors. "There are still plenty of concerns in the Finnish economy. Employee numbers fell in almost every sector we monitor. Although industrial orders saw a rise in December, our export value dropped by nearly seven percent last year. Meanwhile, political wrangling over proposed labor market reforms continues to lead to widespread strikes," Vatanen stated.

However, there remains optimism for Finland's economic outlook. "Fitch Ratings recently maintained Finland's rating in the second-highest category in their latest assessment. According to the company, Finland's significant pension assets mitigate risks associated with debt burden and an aging population. Ilmarinen will release its financial statement and investment returns on Thursday, February 15," Vatanen reminded.

The sectors experiencing the most significant declines include staffing services (-13.2%), construction (-10.0%), and hospitality (-3.2%), with transportation, commerce, and industry also reporting losses.

Vatanen noted the particular impact on the construction sector, with approximately one-fifth of builders unemployed or laid off in January, a significant increase from both the previous year and the past month. "The distress in the construction sector and related staffing services has been evident in Ilmarinen's Economic Index since the beginning of last year," he said.

The workforce reduction was a nationwide trend, with the most substantial decrease in Eastern Finland (-4.5%) and the least in Southern Finland (-1.9%). Despite the overall decline, there were areas of growth, notably in the communication and information technology sector, which saw increases in some regions.

Ilmarinen's Economic Index, which has been published since 2013, reflects changes in employee numbers compared to the previous year, providing a consistent measure of the Finnish economy's health over time.