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Poland in transition: labor market data collected
September 1999, Vol. 122, No. 9
Mieczyslaw Waclaw Socha and Yaacov (Jacob) Weisberg
In 1989, Poland became the first member of the former Soviet bloc to reestablish political democracy and a market economy. The fledgling government was faced with a stagnant economy, inflationary pressure, a large external debt, and market inefficiencies. Gross domestic product (GDP) was nearly stagnant, growing by only 0.2 percent, consumer prices had risen by 250 percent, and real wages increased by 9 percent.1
In view of the economic situation, the new government introduced radical measures that were intended to stabilize the economy and encourage the development of a free market. The country’s much publicized "shock therapy" had begun.
In 1990–91, Poland experienced a deep recession throughout which GDP decreased by almost 20 percent, the demand for labor decreased, and unemployment increased. During the first 3 years of the nation’s transformation, both the State sector and the cooperative sector lost 4.6 million jobs, while the flourishing private sector created 2.6 million new jobs.2 In 1992, the number of unemployed reached 2.8 million, of whom 80 percent had been previously employed.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1999 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Data relating to Poland’s macroeconomic performance come from statistical yearbooks of the Polish Central Statistical Office.
2 See M. W. Socha and U. Sztanderska, "Recent Developments in the Polish Labor Markets: Structural Adjustment in Employment," in H. Lehmann and J. Wadsworth, eds., Labor Market by Design: Labor Market Policies and Creative Use of Household Surveys in Transition Economies (London, Munich, and Cologne, Weltforum Veralg, 1996), pp. 31–45.
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