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Employment and Social Developments: Annual Review highlights need to address risks of in-work poverty

21/01/2014 Homeless man busking in street

A significant increase in poverty among the working age population is one of the most tangible social consequences of the economic crisis. A gradual reduction of unemployment levels may not be enough to reverse this situation if wage polarisation continues, notably due to a rise in part-time work.

This is one of the main findings of the 2013 Employment and Social Developments in Europe Review, which also looks into the positive impact of social benefits on the likelihood of getting back into employment, the consequences of persistent gender imbalances, and the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union.

The review shows how taking up a job can help people to get out of poverty, but only in half of the cases: much depends on the type of job found, but also on the household composition and labour market situation of the partner.

The review highlights that:

  • Contrary to commonly held beliefs, people receiving unemployment benefits are more like to get a job than people not receiving benefits,
  • In some countries (e.g. Poland, Bulgaria), significant shares of unemployed are not covered by standard safety nets (unemployment benefits, social assistance), and tend to rely on family solidarity or informal work,
  • Although the crisis saw a contraction of some gender gaps historically faced by women (largely the result of male-dominated sectors most hit by the crisis), gender differences still persist in labour market participation, pay and the risk of poverty.
  • The still growing macroeconomic, employment and social divergences threaten the core objectives of the EU as set out in the Treaties, namely to benefit all its members by promoting economic convergence and to improve the lives of citizens in the Member States.