SKOPJE, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The unemployment rate in Macedonia witnessed a slight drop in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2016, down to 23.1 percent, the State Statistical Office said on Thursday.
On quarterly basis, the unemployment rate went down by 0.3 percent between the third and fourth quarters, statistics showed.
The labor force in Macedonia numbered 950,255 people, of whom 731,107 were employed, the state statistical office said.
Macedonia's unemployment rate has seen a downward trend since 2014 when it hit 28.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of employees working in the industry sector grew by 0.4 percent in January 2017 compared to the same month last year.
The number of those working in the mining sector rose by 1.2 percent, manufacturing by 0.4 percent and in energy production by 0.7 percent, the State Statistics Bureau said.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance said that employment remained a top priority for the government which has allocated 15 million U.S. dollars for employment programs across the country.
However, economy experts and business representatives said that the extended political crisis that has engulfed Macedonia for almost two and half years is putting investors on the back step and hampering country's economic development.
Macedonia still has not a new government although three months have passed since it held snap parliamentary elections.