Category: Europe

European Union – unemployment
Unemployment has been a major problem in almost all EU countries over the last few decades, but its extent has increased once again since the start of the economic, financial and euro crisis in 2008. The unemployment rate initially fell from 9.1 percent to a temporary low of 7 percent between 2003 and 2008, but then rose again significantly. In 2013, the EU average unemployment rate was 10.3 percent. This development mainly affects the peripheral regions in the south and east, some of which suffer from very high unemployment.

To determine the unemployment figures, the EU relies on the unemployment statistics of the individual countries. For the purpose of an interregional level comparison, these are combined with our own sample surveys. Due to this harmonization, the EU figures differ somewhat from the national figures. The unemployment rate does not include underemployment in structurally weak agricultural regions or short-time work in some branches of industry.

In addition to the direct effects of the economic, financial and euro crisis since 2008, the rise in unemployment is a consequence of various changes in the labor market. The long-term causes include, above all, the continuous automation and rationalization of all production, distribution and service activities for the purpose of reducing wage and manufacturing costs. A second important cause is the progressive outsourcing of an ever larger part of activities to poorer countries with lower wage costs and minimal social and environmental standards.

Between the economic structure and the unemployment rate of a country there is a strong correlation (100.1). With a few exceptions, the rule applies that regions with a low level of production and high levels of employment in agriculture suffer disproportionately from unemployment. The highest regional unemployment rates in 2013 were registered in Greece, Spain, southern Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia, and northern Ireland. Many of these areas are affected by high levels of migration (cf. 100.4).

The precarious situation on the labor market is a heavy burden for the peripheral regions because there is often a particularly high potential of workers. The consequence of this surplus is disproportionately high unemployment among young people under the age of 25, which in many countries doubles, and sometimes even triples, as in Italy. Particularly hard hit by youth unemployment include Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and Slovakia. The high EU average rate of 22.6% (2011–2013) shows, however, that youth unemployment is a major problem in almost the whole of the EU, even in economically strong countries such as England or Sweden; only very few countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria show values ​​that are well below average. For more information about the continent of Europe, please check

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