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Part I - Situation and trends

2 Social Cohesion

For the past three years, there has been strong employment growth across the Union, which has both reduced unemployment significantly and provided job opportunities for people entering the labour market for the first time or returning after a spell of inactivity. Most of the jobs created have been in services, as in previous years, the majority in advanced business and communal services - health care, education, recreational and cultural activities - many of which demand a high level of skill and education from the people who perform them.

At the same time, partly because of the shift towards advanced services and high-skilled jobs, labour shortages have begun to emerge on a significant scale in many parts of the economy, even in areas where unemployment remains relatively high. These shortages are likely to get worse as the recovery proceeds, particularly in information technology where the demand for labour is growing rapidly and where already a substantial number of jobs remain unfilled. Unless they are effectively addressed, they will tend increasingly to slow down the pace of development.

Nevertheless, there remain substantial disparities in levels of employment and rates of unemployment between different parts of the Union as well as between different social groups, which manifest themselves in pockets of deprivation and exclusion.

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