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Against the backdrop of persistent difficulties on the labour markets, marked by ever higher unemployment at EU level, and rising divergence across Member States, the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU now accounts for nearly one-fourth of the EU population.
The EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review provides an overview of developments in the European labour market and the social situation in the EU, based on the latest available data.
According to its latest issue, the number of unemployed in the EU has continued to rise over recent months, increasing by 3.5 million (or +15.7 %) since March 2011 and reaching a new high of close to 26.1 million (or 10.7 % of the active population), by November 2012, affecting youth in particular (23.7 %).
Unemployment trends remain less favourable in the euro area than in the EU as a whole, while divergence between EU Member States in terms of unemployment rates has continued to widen. EU long-term unemployment continues its by now three-year upward trend.
Owing to –inter alia- the very difficult labour market situation, the number of Europeans at risk of poverty or social exclusion increased by six million between 2008 and 2011, now affecting 24.2 % of the population. The most affected group consists in working-age adults.
The third European Quality of Life Survey makes evident a decrease in both objective living standards and in perceived quality of life between 2007 and 2011/2012, with the effects of the crisis particularly visible for the lowest income quartile.
On the positive side, the unadjusted gender pay gap in the EU declined between 2008 and 2010 on average, from 17.3 % to 16.2 %. This decline appears to be a side effect of the crisis on the composition of the workforce, with male-dominated sectors losing ground relatively more than female-dominated ones and more men accepting part-time and temporary jobs.
Confidence stands at a very low level. As a result, the economic outlook is bleak, with unemployment remaining at a very high level and no significant improvement being forecast before 2014.
This edition of the Quarterly Review takes a closer look at the labour market and social situation in Portugal. In addition to the regular analysis of sectoral trends, a focus on the health and social services in the EU is also presented, supplemented by a more in-depth analysis ("Special Supplement").