Kosovo Labor Market

The public sector is the single largest employer, although the private sector employs an increasing number. Unemployment is among the highest in Europe, but many are employed outside the formal sector.

National law guarantees minimum wages and 40 hours of work week. The large informal sector is estimated to account for almost one third of GDP.

The official unemployment rate in Kosovo amounts to around 30 percent, which is, after all, a reduction from the past. However, youth unemployment is twice as high.

More than half of the unemployed have only primary education or lack upper secondary education. Many job seekers lack previous work experience. A strong contributing reason is that the education system is not adapted to meet the labor market’s skills needs. Even well educated people have problems finding employment.

The law prohibits work before the age of 15, but many children follow the tradition and help their parents in their work. According to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, child labor occurs in many industries, especially in the market and street trade, housework and agriculture. Roman children are at high risk of being trafficked, that is to say, being robbed of being forced to make money, for example through begging. It also happens that children are simply abandoned.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Kosovo, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Women’s average income is much lower than men’s. Women also constitute a significantly lower proportion of the working population, with higher unemployment than the average.

Many Kosovans have over the years applied abroad (mainly to Switzerland and Germany) to find work.

The trade union movement weakened during the 1990s war. The largest is the Albanian Federation of Trade Unions in Kosovo, BSPK, which claims to have around 70,000 members and cooperates with other trade unions in the Balkans.



Deferred vote on border agreements

1 September

A planned vote in Parliament on the border agreement with Montenegro is suspended. Prior to the vote, extensive demonstrations have taken place outside the parliament building. No new vote date is set.


Hand grenade towards public service

22 August

An unknown perpetrator throws a grenade at the state-run radio broadcaster RTK’s building in Prishtina. No one is hurt, but President Thaçi calls it all an “attack on freedom of speech”. A week later, a group calling itself Rugovasit takes on that attack and a second hand grenade attack on the RTK chief’s residence.

Mitrovica Bridge is restored

August 15th

Repairs (where the EU contributes EUR 1.2 million) will start on the bridge over the Ibar river, which divides the city of Mitrovica into a Serbian and an Albanian section. The bridge, which has been blocked for the past five years, is estimated to be open to all traffic in January 2017, which is seen as a good sign by many residents of the city. The joy is attenuated somewhat by someone throwing a hand grenade at the Serbian side. See also June 16, 2016.

New tear gas test

9th of August

A member of the opposition party Vetëvendosje releases tear gas during a meeting of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee when the border dispute with Montenegro is discussed. Vetëvendosje has promised to end the tear gas attacks in Parliament but also says that it will never cease to protest the new border demarcation. After lengthy discussions, the government approved the border agreement in August 2015, but in order to enter into force it must first be approved by a two-thirds majority of parliament.

Kosovo’s first Olympic gold

August 8th

Majlinda Kelmendi takes Kosovo’s first Olympic medal ever by winning judo gold in Rio de Janeiro. Although Kosovo was not recognized as its own state by the UN, it was allowed to join the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of 2014 and has thus been able to stand in the Rio Olympics.


Hard terrorist convictions

July 18

Five Kosovans are sentenced to between 10 and 13 years in prison for preparing a video recording in which they swear allegiance to the Islamist terrorist movement IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The five were arrested with IS flags and uniforms in July 2015 and were first accused of trying to poison the drinking water in Prishtina. However, no evidence of this was found.


EULEX mandate extended

17th of June

With a three-day delay, Parliament adopts, by a two-thirds majority, the proposal to extend the mandate for EU legal action EULEX by two years. This can only happen after EU “Foreign Minister” Federica Mogherini has given his approval after a direct request by President Thaçi. It also changes Eulex’s mission to be primarily an advisory force.

Prishtina’s requirements for the establishment of Serbian autonomy

June 16

In a report to the EU, the government says it does not intend to introduce any autonomy for the Serb-dominated municipalities in the north, the so-called ZSO, before four problems are resolved: that Kosovo gets its own country code, that a deal is reached on energy transfer, that the barricade be removed the bridge that divides the city of Mitrovica and that the Serbs completely abolish their parallel structures in the country. On all four points, the government claims that Serbia is blocking a deal, despite the EU-led agreement in January.


Terrorist convictions for IS supporters

24th of May

Seven men are sentenced to a total of 42 years in prison for recruiting soldiers and fighting for the IS terrorist organization in Syria. The longest sentence – 10 years – gets imam Zekeria Qazimi. In the last two years, 314 Kosovars have traveled to join IS, the highest number in Europe per capita.

New party leader for PDK

May 7

The Deputy Chairman of the ruling party PDK, the lawyer Kadri Veseli, is elected unanimously as new party leader after the founder Hashim Thaçi, who in April was sworn in as new president of Kosovo and thus left the party politics.

Kosovo becomes a Uefa member

May 3

At its congress, the European Football Association Uefa accepts Kosovo as a member of the federation, although it is not a state recognized by the UN. The decision also opens the way for a Kosovan membership in the Fifa International Football Federation, which votes yes on the issue on May 13.


The opposition is shattered

April 21

The two smaller opposition parties, AAK and Nisma, sign a cooperation agreement for upcoming elections without the participation of the third, larger, Vetëvendosje. The latter has tried to establish an agreement for all opposition parties, including independent opposition groups, which has made AAK and Nisma feel overrun.

Hashim Thaçi is sworn in as president

April 7

In a ceremony in Parliament, Foreign Minister Hashim Thaçi is sworn in as new president for a five-year term, thus replacing Atifete Jahjaga in the post. The ceremony is boycotted by the opposition and outside the parliament building protesters throw stones, with several windows shattered.

SAA agreements with the EU enter into force

April 1st

Kosovo is taking a step closer to the EU as the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the Union enters into force. The agreement was signed in October 2015.


Royal visit

March 19

British successor Charles and his wife Camilla come to Kosovo as the final stop on an official tour of the Balkans. The purpose of the visit is to promote peace and reconciliation in the region.


Parliament elects Hashim Thaçi as president

February 26th

Thaçi gets 71 out of 120 possible votes in the third round of voting when he is pitted against PDK’s Rafet Rama, who will be without votes. In the first two votes, when a two-thirds majority is required for victory, Thaçi receives 50 and 64 votes respectively. In the third vote, a simple majority is sufficient. The election of Thaçi takes place in accordance with the agreement between PDK and LDK and he will take office in April (see December 2014).

New protest in Parliament

February 19

When Parliament rallies for the first time in the New Year, opposition members throw new tear gas in Parliament and meet with police, in yet another protest against the Kosovo Serbs being given some autonomy. Both Vetëvendosje and AAK and Nisma participate in the protest. AAK leader Haradinaj says he is now leaving his seat in parliament, in protest of the government. Eighteen members are shut down and some are removed by guards. The police seize nine of them. A Vetëvendosje member is taken to hospital after being injured in a case.

Tens of thousands demonstrate on Independence Day

February 17th

The protesters demand the resignation of the government and the border agreement with Montenegro as well as the agreement on municipal autonomy with Serbia be torn down. The mass meeting in Prishtina is conducted without violence breaking out, unlike in previous demonstrations.

Opposition politicians are arrested

February 16th

At least one MP and three other representatives of Vetëvendosje are arrested the day before Independence Day, due to crime suspicions of 2009. Police are reportedly looking for another 22 party members. The crime applies to 28 Eulex vehicles overturned. The party claims that the timing of the arrests is political, ahead of a demonstration on Independence Day.


The Prishtina-Belgrade talks continue

January 28

In Brussels, EU-led talks between Kosovo and Serbia resume on normalizing relations. In addition to a follow-up to agreements already made, a lot of time is spent discussing how to implement the decision on self-government for the Serbian-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo (the opposition in Kosovo has ever since opposed the decision in every way and even promised to continue its protests). In addition, it will be agreed to start discussions on direct train and air links between Kosovo and Serbia. The talks, where the countries are represented by their Prime Ministers, Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Isa Mustafa, are led by EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and are in good spirits.

Kosovo Labor Market