EU unemployment continues to hit new highs – over half of young people in Greece and Spain are without work

Press Releases

8 Jan 2013

The latest EU unemployment figures show that the overall rate of unemployment in the Eurozone is continuing to rise steadily. The rate now stands at a record 11.8% in November 2012, a significant jump from the 10.6% recorded in November 2011.

The unemployment rate in the EU27 now stands at 10.7%, also up significantly from 10.0% in November 2011.

Compared with November 2011, the number of unemployed people rose by 2.012 million in the EU27 and by 2.015 million in the Eurozone. There are now 26 million people unemployed across the EU.

Unemployment levels have increased over the past 12 months in 18 EU Member States, decreased in seven and remained stable in two (Denmark and Hungary).

There continue to be wide variations in the level of unemployment across the EU, pointing mainly to a north-south divide:

The lowest unemployment rates in the EU are in Austria (4.5%), Luxembourg (5.1%) and Germany (5.4%).

The highest levels of unemployment are in Spain (26.6%) and Greece (26.0% in September 2012). These countries are also among those that recorded the highest increases in unemployment over the past 12 months.

By contrast, the Baltic states appear to be continuing to perform relatively well in terms of managing to shrink unemployment levels: in Estonia, the unemployment rate fell from 12.1% to 9.5% (12 months to October 2012), in Latvia, the rate fell from 15.7% to 14.1% between third quarters of 2011 and 2012, and in Lithuania from 13.9% to 12.5%.

The main problem continues to be the fact that youth unemployment is still rising at a steady rate, despite EU policymakers’ efforts to contain it. The average rate of unemployment for the under-25s in November 2012 in the EU27 is now 23.7% and 24.4% in the Eurozone, compared with 22.2% and 21.6% respectively in November 2011.

In Greece, the youth unemployment rate, at 57.6% in September 2012, is edging ever closer to the 60% mark – over half of young people in Greece are now without work. Spain is also continuing to struggle with youth unemployment, with the rate in November 2012 reaching 56.5%. Youth unemployment levels in Portugal (38.7%), Italy (37.1%) and Slovakia (35.8%) are also well above the EU average for the under-25s.

Andrea Broughton, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, comments:

‘The EU has recently launched a new package of measures designed to help young people in the EU gain access to work or training. The EU’s new Youth Guarantee urges Member States to ensure that all young people receive either a quality offer of work, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. This is a laudable aim, although it will take some time for any such measures to have a real impact on the unemployment figures. Given that many EU Member States are still struggling with debt and implementing budget cuts, unemployment is likely to carry on rising for some time to come.’


Notes to editor

About Andrea:

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. Andrea has undertaken a number of European labour market research projects.

About IES

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.