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Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review shows recovery still fragile

06/10/2014 Young man reads job vacancies from bulletin board

The economic recovery which started in the spring of 2013 remains fragile and future employment developments remain uncertain, according to the European Commission's latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.

The Review also takes a look at differences in income inequality among Member States, and underlines the relevance of investing in skills through life to increase the employability of workers.

Employment has continued to grow in most sectors since mid-2013. The number of hours worked rose and, for the first time since 2011, there has been a small increase in full time contracts and improvements in the situation of young people. However, many of the new jobs created are part-time or temporary

Unemployment still remains close to historically high levels. And the long-term unemployed represent a large and growing share of total unemployment, with almost 13 million people having been unemployed for more than one year. Moreover, one in three unemployed people have spent more than two years without a job.

For young people, the situation has improved, with significant reductions in unemployment rates in most Member States. Nevertheless, youth unemployment remains very high in countries such as Greece and Spain. Among those who have a job, almost half are on temporary jobs and nearly a quarter works part-time.

Member States need to continue their efforts to turn the Youth Guarantee into a reality to ensure that every young person gets help to find either a decent job or the opportunity to find training, experience or learning relevant to getting a job in the future.

The meeting of EU leaders on employment in Milan on 8 October will be a further occasion to give high level political impetus to implementing the Youth Guarantee.

Life-long learning increases chances to get a job

Developing relevant skills and putting them to the best use are essential to increase productivity, international competitiveness and a sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU.

The review highlights that, as recent research by the OECD and the Commission shows, not only formal education but also training and skills acquired during working life improve the chances of finding a job. Furthermore, life-long learning also makes it more likely to have better paid positions.

However, the EU still lags behind countries such as Japan, Canada, Korea and the US in skills proficiency.

Towards a better measurement of welfare and inequalities

GDP as an indicator of economic performance needs to be complemented to capture other dimensions of the progress of societies.

An analysis of income indicators reveals that, even during the years of economic expansion, economic growth did not benefit all households equally, nor did it contribute to reduce inequalities in all Member States. With the economic crisis, GDP per capita and gross disposable household incomes declined across the EU and have not yet returned to the pre-crisis levels in many countries.

This topic will be discussed in a high level expert conference on Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance which will take place in Brussels on the 10th of October 2014.