Unemployment situation in Europe for 2023

Unemployment in Europe: Outlook, Statistics

Unemployment is a problem faced by people of all ages and all nationalities. Understanding the current unemployment rate situation is not only necessary for economists, but also for those looking for a new job or planning to change companies. Knowing what is happening in the labor market will also help you understand if it is safe to change jobs right now and what your chances are of landing a new position.

13 million Europeans are out of work

Eurostat estimates that 13 million people in the EU are out of work in November 2023, representing 5.9% of the working age population. This is slightly less than the 6.1% recorded in November 2022. In January 2022, still under the impact of the Covid-19-related economic crisis, the European Union recorded 6.3% unemployment (or 13.5 million people), a sharp rise after several years of consecutive declines. However, as a result of the gradual recovery from the crisis and European and national stimulus measures, the number of job seekers has been steadily declining over the past year and a half.

Contrasts between countries

While Malta had an unemployment rate of 2.5% in November 2023 and the Czech Republic only 2.4% (the lowest in the EU), Spain's unemployment rate peaked at 11.9% and Greece's at 9.4% at the same time. France's unemployment rate is 7.3% of the working age population, higher than both the European average and the eurozone rate (6.4%).

Small fluctuations

Unemployment rates rose slightly in 13 countries and fell slightly in 14 others. Greece, where the unemployment rate fell by more than 2 points, is an exception compared to its European counterparts.

As defined by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the unemployment rate is the percentage of the unemployed in the active population as defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The active population is the total number of employed and unemployed people. The unemployed in statistical terms are defined as people between the ages of 15 and 74 who are unemployed and have actively sought work in the previous four weeks.

National differences

Differences in unemployment rates between countries depend largely on the dynamics of their economies. This is reflected in each country's ability to produce wealth from raw materials, both domestic and imported, through a combination of labor (machines and people) and capital (public and private investment).

Cheap raw materials to reduce unemployment

Cheap raw materials flowing through efficient infrastructure and supported by inexpensive energy are all assets for a country seeking to reduce unemployment. Similarly, a skilled, diversified, and innovative labor force affects unemployment. Finally, job creation is fostered by a climate of confidence among investors, both domestic and foreign, public and private.

In times of crisis, some countries are more resilient than others because they are less dependent on energy imports or have fewer jobs that are exposed to or dependent on private finance.

Differences in legislation

In the Nordic countries, the flexible social protection model makes it easier to lay people off, but also offers high levels of insurance coverage combined with active policies to help people return to work. In normal times, these countries are among the countries with the lowest unemployment rates in Europe.

Part-time employment is key to keeping the economy going

Part-time employment is also very common in the Nordic countries. In Germany in particular, low unemployment is accompanied by a high use of short contracts. And in the Netherlands, according to Eurostat, 38.4% of the working-age population (aged 20-64) will be working part-time in 2022. This figure is also high in Austria (30.1%) and Germany (27.9%) in the same year. However, part-time employment is accompanied by lower wages for workers. In 2018 in the EU, the average monthly salary of a full-time worker was 2,600 euro and that of a part-time worker was 1,400 euro.



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