According to the latest EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review, the labour market and social situation in the EU have continued to be unfavourable overall and to show clearer signs of polarisation.
EU employment remained static in the first quarter of 2012, after two consecutive quarters of contraction, bringing the unemployment rate in the EU to above 10% in early 2012. The EU aggregate employment rate declined between 2008 and 2010 and remained stuck at 68.8% for the 20-64 age group in 2011, more than 6 percentage points short of the Europe 2020 target.
Divergence within the EU remains high with roughly half the Member States seeing some economic growth and the other half either stagnation or a decline in the first part of 2012.
Permanent and temporary jobs as well as self-employment were all falling in the second half of 2011 in the EU overall. On the other hand, inactivity has been falling recently driven by significantly increased participation in the labour force of women and older persons, while men, young people, non-nationals and the low-skilled are still more affected by deteriorating labour market conditions.
Risks for young people remain high, as they are the most exposed to precariousness and labour market segmentation, becoming increasingly long-term unemployed, or joining the ranks of NEETs (not in employment, education or training).
Due to the high unemployment rate in Southern European countries, mobility intentions are high (especially among young people) and labour mobility from those countries has increased, contrasting with an overall decline in intra-EU mobility since 2008. Emigration from these countries has increased, notably in the form of return migration, but there are also early signs of new patterns of emigration of nationals (e.g. from Ireland to Australia).
Unfavourable labour market conditions, especially for some population segments, not supported by sufficient social protection expenditure, aggravated social challenges for households in certain Member States. Among indicators of this are a worsening of household's financial situations, material deprivation, increased south-north mobility and homelessness. The phenomenon gained ground across the EU, as many people experienced job loss or income drop in the recession, particularly in Member States on the EU's periphery.
This edition of the Quarterly Review analyses the situation in the public and healthcare sectors and takes a closer look at the labour markets and social situation in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.