In the year to the third quarter of 2016, the number of employees with permanent contracts grew by 1.8%. This represents an increase of 2.8 million employees, which is seven times more than the increase in temporary contracts of 420 thousand (1.6% growth), according to the latest Employment and Social Developments Quarterly Review.
The positive social and employment trends persisted over the last year. Today's released winter edition of the Employment and Social Development in Europe (ESDE) Quarterly Review 2016 highlights continuing economic growth in the EU together with a steady decrease in unemployment. In the third quarter of 2016, employment exceeded its pre-crisis peak by 0.9%, or 940 thousand more people in employment than in spring 2008.
In December 2016, there were 1.8 million less unemployed people than the year before; including 1.3 million people less in the Euro Area. The strongest declines in unemployment rate were seen in the younger age groups (those 20-24 and 25-29 years old). Croatia saw the strongest decline in total unemployment by 3.6 pps over the year to December 2016. Also, in the third quarter of 2016, Croatia experienced a particularly strong decline in long-term unemployment by 5 pps. For the first time in the third quarter of 2016, all Member States in the EU achieved activity rates above 65%, Italy was the last country to reach this threshold. The activity rate in the EU reached 73.1% of the population.
Also, the financial situation of EU households continues to improve in nearly all Member States, as real gross disposable household income continued to grow by a solid 2%. The improvement resulted from an increase in income from work, and a further increase in social benefits.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen commented: "With 1.8 million fewer people unemployed than a year before, and employment figures exceeding even the pre-crisis peak, this Commission shows once again that helping people to find a quality job is on the top of its agenda. This does not only have a positive impact on our economies, it also empowers and protects our European citizens against poverty and financial distress. But this does not mean that our work stops here. We will need to update and modernise our social model to fit today's challenges on the labour market and be fair to all generations. This goal will be at the heart of our upcoming proposal on the European Pillar of Social Rights, a key initiative to further improve job opportunities and economic and social conditions for all."