EU Commission publishes quarterly report on employment and social situation

EU Commission publishes quarterly report on employment and social situation

The latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review, published by the European Commission, highlights significant positive trends, such as the continuous fall in unemployment, the increase in permanent and full-time contracts, the decline in youth unemployment and also — for the first time since the onset of the crisis — the decline in long-term unemployment.

However, considerable challenges remain, with levels of unemployment still high, and significant differences across Member States.

Employment in the EU continues to improve moderately but consistently, although developments at the EU level hide marked differences between Member States. Against the modest economic recovery of the last two years, employment has been steadily increasing.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, it increased by 0.2% in the EU and 0.1% in the EA. The majority of Member States experienced an increase, including countries with very high unemployment rates such as Greece and Spain. The only exceptions were Portugal, Croatia and Cyprus which registered a quarterly decline (1.4%, 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively).

Unemployment in the EU continues to slowly recede, but it remains high with large differences across the EU. The EU unemployment rate was 9.8% in February 2015, 0.7 pp lower than the year before and the lowest since autumn 2011. Unemployment rates decreased in most Member States in the year to February 2015, except for increases in Croatia, Cyprus, Finland and France. Large differences remain among Member States. The unemployment rate ranges from around 5% in Germany and Austria to very high 23% in Spain and 26% in Greece.

Youth unemployment in the EU fell by 1.8 pp in the year to February 2015, to reach 21.1%. This is still high compared to its lowest level since 2008 of 15.1%. It declined in most Member States except for Luxembourg, Finland and France. Unemployment affects 50% of young active people in Greece and Spain, and more than 30% in Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and Croatia.

Overall, 23.9 million people are unemployed in the EU, including 18.2 million in the EA, and 4.9 million young people.

Long-term unemployment declines for the first time since 2009. In the year to the third quarter of 2014, long-term unemployment declined by 0.2 pp but remains a main challenge in the EU labour market and more so in some Member States. The long-term unemployment rate is now 4.9%, marking the first improvement since the beginning of 2009.

Still, around half of the unemployed people in the EU, around 12.4 million people, have been unemployed for more than a year, and of those, more than 6 million have been unemployed for more than two years. In addition, long-term unemployment rates remain very high in some Member States: Greece (19%), Spain (12.6%), Croatia (9.7%), Slovakia (9%), Portugal (8%), Italy (7.4%) and Cyprus (7.8%). They are not decreasing in Greece and continue to increase in Italy and Cyprus.