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Labour market shows positive signs: highest overall EU employment rate since 2008

11/02/2016
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The 2015 winter edition of the Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review shows improvements on the EU labour market.

Employment and activity rates have continued to increase in the EU, across all population groups and most notably for older workers (55 - 59 years). In the third quarter of 2015, the overall EU employment rate has even reached its pre-crisis level, although the progress is unevenly distributed among Member States. In addition, unemployment has continued to recede and the share of long-term unemployed persons in total unemployment has slightly gone down.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen commented: "We see more people in employment in the EU. This is a very encouraging development, also in view of the population ageing. However, we must not overlook the huge disparities across Member States. We still have a long way to go to reach the employment target of 75% that the EU set itself for 2020. We need to pay particular attention to long-term unemployment. Although we are starting to see a gradual decline in the number of long-term unemployed, there are still more than 10 million Europeans unemployed during one year or more. We must urgently implement the Council Recommendation on long-term unemployment adopted in December to support those who have been worst hit by the crisis."

The EU employment rate for people 20 to 64 years has increased by 0.9 percentage points in the year to the third quarter of 2015, reaching 70.6%. The improvement was shared by most Member States, with Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and Spain recording the largest increases.

The Quarterly Review also confirms that in the year to the third quarter, employment was up in all broad sectors except for agriculture and construction. However, the EU quarterly employment growth in the third quarter of 2015 was mainly driven by the service sectors.

Employment growth was driven by both permanent and full-time contracts, though less so than in 2014. The number of employees with a permanent contract grew by about 1.5 million in the year to the third quarter of 2015, while temporary contracts grew by about 930 thousand and the number of those self-employed declined by 330 thousand. The number of full-time workers increased by about 1.5 million, while the number of part-time workers increased by about 600 thousand.