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Quarterly review of the employment and social situation in the EU

The new data on employment and social situation, published in the quarterly review of the European Commission, showed some very positive trends. The most positive shifts are noticeable in the further decline of the unemployment rate, 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.

Despite the improved situation, there are still many challenges. Unemployment is still very high and very unevenly distributed among Member States. The lowest unemployment is currently recorded in Germany (4.8%) and Austria (5.3%), while the highest in Greece (26%) and Spain (23.2%). According to the latest data, long-term unemployment during the third quarter of 2013 and 2014 in the EU, decreased by 0.2%, but is still staying at a high 4.9% level. More than half of the unemployed (12.4 million) in the EU is unemployed for more than 1 year. Of these, 6 million are unemployed for more than two years. Long-term unemployment is at the highest in Greece (19%), Spain (12.6%), Croatia (9.7%) and Slovakia (9%).

A major problem in the EU is also youth unemployment, which, despite the decline in the last two years, is still at 21.1%. The European Commission has already recognized the problem and has as early as in February approved an additional 1 billion euro from the Youth Employment Initiative available as early as this year.

There are also positive developments on the economic field. The growth in household income has continued at a faster pace, mainly driven by the growth in employment. However, the level of households reporting suffering from financial distress (needing to draw on savings or to run into debt to cover current expenditures) remained unchanged and even intensified for those households with lower incomes..

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen commented: “This review reflects many encouraging signs in the labour market. 2.7 million jobs were recovered over the past two years. Nevertheless, there are still more than 23.8 million unemployed, including 12 million people who have been in this situation for more than a year, and every fifth young person on the labour market is without a job today. Creating jobs and boosting growth is at the core of the Commission’s priorities: efforts initiated by the Investment Plan for Europe and the Youth Employment Initiative will be pursued further this year by dedicated initiatives to address long-term unemployment and facilitate labour mobility“.


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