The situation in the labor market of the European Union (EU) remains tense in the first quarter of 2012.
The unemployment rate reached a new peak with 10.1 % in January 2012, which are in absolute numbers 24.3 million members of the EU searching for jobs. This number was increasing constantly during the last six months.
Furthermore youth unemployment climbed to a new historical high rate of 22.4% . This is a higher rate than one year before in January 2011. Mostly youth is affected twice as hard by unemployment than adults all over the EU. Moreover the share of young people ‘neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs)’ increased significantly.
But even though the European Union has a common labor market, there are huge divergences between the member states. While the average unemployment rate in the European Union is rising the number of unemployed has fallen in six member states over the last three months. But most states denote a progressive rise in unemployment numbers. Germany is the only exception in all indicators; The unemployment rate has been falling steadily during the last two years and the youth is not that much affected by unemployment as in the other states.
The youth unemployment rate in Germany (as well as in Austria and the Netherlands) is below 10 % whereas Spain and Greece contend with almost 50 % of jobless young people.
In the European Union men and women are affected equally by unemployment- the gender-gap is diminishing.
Despite these poor numbers and facts the future expectations and labor shortage indicators are positive and optimistic; more in the industry than in the tertiary sector. Also the number and growth of permanent contracts shows a positive development.Formularbeginn
The bad situation in the labor market also influences the private social situation of the citizens. Children are more affected by the crisis than others, because their parents were directly hit by rising unemployment.
The current at-risk-of poverty rate is at 16 % and could be even higher if there were no social protection policy in the EU (currently about 30 % of the GDP).
For long-term future recovery of the labor market in the European Union, there has to be a mix of employment and social policies. Active ageing ( where elder people get training and can stay in their jobs until retirement), worker´s mobility (which could equalize the inequalities between the member states) and the implementation of green economy (which can create new jobs and requires skilled workers) can be only some possible approaches to overcome the crisis sustainable.