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Steady improvement of European labour market conditions according to Joint Employment Report

07/03/2017 Women working in a lab

On 3 March, the European Council of employment and social policy ministers adopted the 2017 Joint Employment Report.

The report takes a snapshot of the employment and social situation across the EU. It also highlights the extent of reforms carried out in the Member States over the past year. A draft version was presented  by the Commission in November 2016 as part of the Autumn Package launching the European Semester.

The report points out the steady improvement of labour market conditions in Europe. The unemployment rate kept falling and stood at 8.5% (10% in the euro area) in the third quarter of 2016. The employment rate in 2016 was, for the first time, above the levels recorded before the crisis. If the current trend continues, the 75% employment rate target set by the Europe 2020 strategy for 2020 could be within reach.

The report also shows that, despite first signals of convergence among Member States, employment and social outcomes continue to vary significantly across countries.

As also shown by the scoreboard of Key Employment and Social Indicators, which is part of the report,

  • unemployment, youth unemployment and poverty levels remain far too high in many parts of Europe;
  • labour market and social outcomes also vary by gender, age and education for example;
  • despite a recent overall stabilisation, income inequality remains high in many EU countries with potential negative implications for economic output and inclusive and sustainable growth.

Many Member States have implemented important reform agendas in recent years, with positive effects on job creation. This efforts need to continue to promote the creation of quality jobs and increase the inclusiveness of labour markets, including by

  • removing barriers to labour market participation,
  • tackling labour market segmentation and undeclared work,
  • ensuring that social protection systems provide adequate income support,
  • enabling services to all while encouraging transitions into employment and making work pay.