Unemployment concerns

Central and South Eastern Europe are among the regions hardest hit by youth unemployment, which globally is at record levels.

According to the Voice of America, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a report released in early August, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2010, that a record 81 million young people aged 15 to 24 years were without work at the end of 2009 and this number was expected to increase in 2010.

The ILO said that labour prospects for young people were fairly favourable until 2007.

For 10 years before the current economic crisis, the number of unemployed youth increased, on average, by 200 000 a year, the ILO report said. In comparison, youth unemployment increased by a staggering 6.7 million in 2009.

The report warned that this trend would have significant consequences as more young people join the ranks of the already unemployed and become part of what it calls a lost generation of young people who have dropped out of the labour market.

ILO economist and co-author of the report, Sara Elder, says youth unemployment is most severe in the developed economies and non-EU, Central and South Eastern Europe.

In these two regions alone, we saw the highest increases, annual increases that we have ever seen for any region and we have been gathering these numbers since 1991,” Elder said, according to VOA. “The youth unemployment rate of 17.7 per cent in the developed economies marks the highest the region has ever seen.”


ILO data shows youth unemployment increased by 45 per cent in developed economies, though only 10 per cent of the global youth labour force lives there. The report says that underemployment and poverty are the biggest problems in developing countries, where about 90 per cent of the world’s young people live.

ILO Economist and co-author, Steven Kapsos, said that governments in developing countries do not provide unemployment benefits to young people out of work. So, young people have no choice. He says they have to work and most of them end up in the informal economy.

So, these are young people that are working very hard, but typically in low productivity employment and they still live in extreme poverty,” Kapsos said. “And, for the first time, we are able to put a number to this, which we have done in this report. We estimate that 152 million youth were classified as working poor in 2008 and that is based on the standard international $1.25 a day poverty line. That is equal to 28 per cent of all young workers around the world.

The ILO forecasts slight improvements in youth unemployment for almost all regions next year. The only exception, it says, is in the Middle East and North Africa where youth unemployment is expected to increase.

The report says the largest decrease of one percentage point in youth unemployment is expected for Central and South Eastern Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union.

The European picture

EU statistics office Eurostat said that in June 2010, youth unemployment (under-25s) was 19.6 per cent in the 16-member euro zone and 20.3 per cent across the 27 member states of the EU.

In June 2009 it was 19.5 per cent in the euro zone and 19.6 per cent in the EU.

The lowest rate was in the Netherlands (8.1 per cent), and the highest rates in Spain (40.3 per cent), Estonia (39.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2010) and Latvia (39.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2010).

A separate Eurostat report showed that the total employment rate for people aged 15-64 in the EU27 rose steadily from 62.4 per cent in 2002 to 65.9 per cent in 2008, but fell to 64.6 per cent in 2009.

The employment rate for women, which increased continuously from 53.7 per cent in 2000 to 59.1 per cent in 2008, dropped for the first time in 2009 to 58.6 per cent. In contrast, the rate for older people, i.e. those aged 55-64, has continued to grow, reaching 46 per cent in 2009, compared with 36.9 per cent in 2000 and 45.6 per cent in 2008.

In 2009, the employment rate for people aged 15-64 was above 70 per cent in the Netherlands (77.per cent), Denmark (75.7 per cent), Sweden (72.2 per cent), Austria (71.6 per cent) and Germany (70.9 per cent), and below 60 per cent in Malta (54.9 per cent), Hungary (55.4 per cent), Italy (57.5 per cent), Romania (58.6 per cent), Poland (59.3 per cent) and Spain (59.8 per cent).

Denmark (73.1 per cent), the Netherlands (71.5 per cent), Sweden (70.2 per cent) and Finland (67.9 per cent) registered the highest rates of female employment in 2009, while Malta (37.7 per cent), Italy (46.4 per cent), Greece (48.9 per cent) and Hungary (49.9 per cent) had the lowest.

Eurostat said that in all EU member states, the male employment rate was higher than the female rate in 2009, except for Lithuania, where the female rate was one percentage point higher than that for men, and Latvia, where the rates were nearly equal.

The employment rate for those aged 55-64 was highest in 2009 in Sweden (70 per cent), Estonia (60.4 per cent), Denmark and the United Kingdom (both 57.5 per cent) and Germany (56.2 per cent). It was lowest in Malta (28.1 per cent), Poland (32.3 per cent) and Hungary (32.8 per cent).


The share of part-time employment in total employment in the EU27 grew from 15.7 per cent in 2002 to 18.1 per cent in 2009. The highest shares of part-time employment were in the Netherlands (47.7 per cent) and the lowest in Bulgaria (2.1 per cent).

The share of employees with limited duration contracts in the EU27 grew from 12.3 per cent in 2002 to 14.5 per cent in 2007. It then fell to 14 per cent in 2008 and 13.5 per cent in 2009. The highest shares of limited duration contracts were in Poland (26.5 per cent), Spain (25.4 per cent), Portugal (22 per cent) and the Netherlands (18.2 per cent), and the lowest in Romania (one per cent) Lithuania (2.2 per cent) and Estonia (2.5 per cent).