EU jobless rate stabilising but structural problems remain
28 Feb 2014
Andrea Broughton, IES Principal Research Fellow, comments on today's Eurostat unemployment statistics:
‘The latest EU unemployment figures show that the overall rate of unemployment in the Eurozone in January 2014 was 12%, stable since October 2013. The rate for the EU28 was 10.8%, also stable since October 2013. Compared with January 2013, unemployment decreased by 449,000 in the EU28, and by 67,000 in the euro area.
‘Compared with the figures from a year ago, the unemployment rate increased in 13 Member States, fell in 13 and remained stable in Austria and Slovenia.
‘Some commentators are heralding this as a sign that a timid labour market recovery is now underway in Europe. Nevertheless, there are continuing structural problems in the EU labour market. There remains a significant difference in the unemployment rate between EU Member States, ranging from 4.9% in Austria, 5.0% in Germany and 6.1% in Luxembourg, to 28.0% in Greece (November 2013 figures) and 25.8% in Spain.
‘In addition, youth unemployment remains the EU’s biggest labour market challenge: the unemployment rate for the under-25s was 24.0% in the eurozone, and 23.4% in the EU28. Countries such as Greece (59.0%), Spain (54.6%) and Croatia (49.8%) are struggling with particularly high youth unemployment rates, although these are falling slightly. Youth unemployment is therefore one of the key social policy priorities of the European Union, which has put into place a variety of initiatives designed to boost the labour market chances of young people.
‘Although the longer-term trends in terms of unemployment cannot yet be assessed, it is certainly encouraging that the rate of unemployment in the EU has been stable for some months, which will surely give EU policymakers cause for cautious optimism. However, the EU still has significant labour market issues to contend with, such as continuing high youth unemployment, likely to remain with us for some time, and the wide discrepancy between the labour market performance of individual Member States, essentially along a north/south divide.’
The Institute for Employment Studies is the UK’s leading independent, not-for-profit centre for research and evidence-based consultancy on employment, the labour market, and HR policy and practice.
About Andrea Broughton
Andrea joined IES in 2006 and has over 20 years' experience of research and writing in the areas of employment relations and industrial relations, specialising in international comparative research. Specific areas of interest include workplace-level industrial relations, European social dialogue, employee involvement, restructuring and change management, health and wellbeing issues and work-life balance issues.
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