EU unemployment rate stabilises
31 Jul 2013
Andrea Broughton, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies comments on today's unemployment statistics from Eurostat:
‘EU27 unemployment fell slightly in June 2013, to 10.9% from 11.0% the previous month. It would seem that the rate of unemployment in Europe appears to be stabilising, although it is too early to assess the overall longer-term trend. It is certainly true, however, that the Eurozone unemployment rate has fallen for the first time in a couple of years, giving rise to hopes that the European economy may be entering a period of recovery.
‘However, the EU still has significant labour market issues to contend with, such as the wide discrepancy between the labour market performance of individual Member States, essentially along a north/south divide.
‘There is also the perpetual headache of youth unemployment, which is still increasing, although possibly more slowly than in recent months. A situation in which almost a quarter of young people who are available for work cannot find a job is storing up significant social and economic problems for the future. EU policymakers are attempting to address the crisis in youth unemployment with schemes such as the Youth Guarantee. The EU is also seeking to highlight and disseminate good practice in terms of training and work experience for young people, particularly in countries such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.’
The latest EU unemployment figures show that the overall rate of unemployment in the Eurozone in June 2013 was 12.1%, stable compared with the figure for May 2013. The rate for the EU27 was 10.9%, down from the 11.0% recorded in May 2013. However, despite this recent stability, unemployment rates are still well above the levels recorded a year ago, at 11.4% in the Eurozone and 10.5% in the EU27 in June 2012.
In terms of numbers of unemployed people, Eurostat estimates that just over 26.4 million people were unemployed in the EU27 in June 2013, a decrease of 32,000 compared with the figure for May 2013.
Nevertheless, the gap between different EU Member States in terms of labour market performance remains, with Greece and Spain recording the highest rates of unemployment (26.9% in Greece according to April 2013 figures, and 26.3% in Spain). The rate of unemployment is also increasing fastest in Greece, although Cyprus has seen a jump in its unemployment figures, from 11.7% to 17.3% between June 2012 and 2013. Slovenia also experienced a year-on-year increase from 8.8% to 11.2%. The Baltic States, by contrast, appear to be performing better in labour market terms – in Latvia, the rate of unemployment fell from 15.5% to 12.5% between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013, and in Estonia, the rate fell from 10.1% in May 2012 to 8.0% in May 2013. However, emigration from Baltic States may play a part in explaining these figures.
At the other end of the scale, the unemployment rate is lowest in Austria, at 4.6%, Germany, at 5.4% and Luxembourg, at 5.7%.
The youth unemployment rate continues to increase, from 23.8% in May 2013 to 23.9% in June 2013 in the Eurozone, and from 23.1% to 23.2% in the EU27. In year-on-year terms, the rate has increased more steeply, from 23.0% in the Eurozone and 22.8% in the EU27 in June 2012. This means that almost a quarter of young people who are available for work in the EU are not able to find work.
Youth unemployment levels continue to vary significantly according to Member State. The country with the highest levels of youth unemployment is still Greece, where the rate was 58.7% in April 2013, closely followed by Spain, where the rate in June 2013 was 56.1%. Croatia, the newest member of the EU, has experienced a significant jump in youth unemployment, rising from 39.6% in June 2012 to 55.6% in June 2013. Portugal and Italy also have high youth unemployment rates, of 41.0% and 39.1% respectively.
The countries that are most successful in ensuring that young people are in employment are Germany (where the youth unemployment rate is 7.5%), Austria (9.3%) and the Netherlands (11.0%).
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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