EU unemployment still rising

Press Releases

2 Apr 2012

Today's unemployment figures released by the EU's statistical office Eurostat show that average levels of unemployment are continuing to increase steadily in the EU on a year-on-year basis, albeit with wide variations between Member States.

  • The average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the EU 27 was 10.2% in February 2012, a significant increase on the February 2011 figure of 9.5% and a slight increase on the January figure of 10.1%.
  • In the euro area (11 EU countries), the February 2012 rate was 10.8%, compared with 10.0% in February 2011 and 10.7% in January 2012.
  • Unemployment rates in individual EU Member States varied significantly, ranging from 4.2% in Austria and 4.9% in the Netherlands, to 23.6% in Spain.
  • 18 Member States experienced an increase in the rate of unemployment over the year to February 2012, although unemployment fell in eight and remained stable in one (Romania).

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

‘One of the EU's main labour market preoccupations is the high and rising rate of unemployment among the under-25s, and this trend shows no signs of slowing as yet. The average youth unemployment rate in the EU27 rose to 22.4% in February 2012, up from 21.0% in February 2011. The December 2011 figures show that youth unemployment rates have reached arguably unsustainable levels in two Member States: 50.5% in Spain and 50.4% in Greece.

‘There has been an upward trend in EU average unemployment since the second quarter of 2011, which has been mirrored in the majority of individual Member States. Present concerns over the euro, the debt problems of some Member States, public spending cuts and austerity measures across many EU Member States mean that the unemployment rate is unlikely to fall significantly in the EU in the near future. EU policymakers will have an uphill struggle in trying to reverse this trend, particularly in the area of youth unemployment.’


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.