Lithuania’s registered unemployment rate surged to 8.5% in Dec 2016 from 7.6% in Nov 2015, thus reaching the highest level since Apr 2016, the labor exchange said on Friday. In Dec 2015, the unemployment rate was 9.0%. The number of unemployed rose by 16,639 m/m to 151,978 at end-Dec 2016, following a much smaller increase by 5,232 m/m in the previous month. The monthly increase was much stronger than seasonal patterns suggest. There were 4,605 job vacancies at end-Dec 2016, which means a fall on both monthly (-40.3% m/m) and annual basis (-2.2% y/y). Accordingly, the unemployment-per-vacancy ratio skyrocketed to 33 in Dec 2016 from 18 in Nov 2016 but still remained below Dec 2016’s one of 35. In our view, the unemployment rate is likely to continue this upward trend in early 2017 not only due to seasonal factors, but mostly due to the fact that the economy continues to expand at a below-potential growth rate.