The labour market is one of the most interesting themes on the present Estonian economy. More and more attention has been paid to the labour market and unemployment. A fundamental labor survey has been carried out for several years already and the data of the Estonian Labour Force Survey of 1998 were the basis of this study.

In labour force surveys the methodology of the International Labour Organisation is used, which guarantees the comparability of the data. The Estonian Labour Force Survey contains 12 919 respondents, for this study their number was limited to 1496 persons. The labour force survey covers the whole working-age population.

The first aim of this study was to bring out factors which influence the length of the work searching period. If the affecting factors are known it is possible to influence the effectivity of the labour market policy. The second aim of this study was to analyse discouraged people in this respect.

The statistical methods used in this work were the logistic regression, the Cox regression, survival tables and survival functions.

The main conclusions and results according to this study were:

1. It is most difficult to find job in the economically less developed areas.

2. Specialists and officials find jobs quicker than workers, but high education is not an affecting factor.

3. People who have been discharged or dismissed encounter serious difficulty finding employment compared to those who have left job voluntarily or sought to change carreers.

4. In comparison with younger age groups, for those who are older than fifty the probability to find job quickly diminishes.

5. Men have some advantages since employers tend to trust them more than women.

6. It is also important to have Estonian as first language, because it shortens the length of the work searching period in comparison with those whose first language is not Estonian.

7. Discouraged people belong mainly to the groups whose work searching period is longer.