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According to the new EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review, the modest labour market recovery stopped in the third quarter of 2011 with a drop by 0.1 %.
With this negative trend since summer 2011, more Member States are recording employment slowdown or decrease. On the other hand, European unemployment has reached a historically high level, at a rate of 9.8 %. The severe rise in unemployment over the period 2008-2009 has continued to influence long-term unemployment: by mid-2011, 43 % of the unemployed persons had been without a job for more than one year, compared to less than 40 % a year before and to just a third two years earlier.
Most groups are affected but especially hard hit are the young, the low-skilled and migrants. The labour market recovery for youth did not last long and, after a year of stabilisation, unemployment again started to climb in May 2011, at a faster rate than among adults. Youth unemployment rate reached 22.3 % in November 2011, from a low of around 15 % in spring 2008. Moreover, in that period the share of young people who are neither in employment, education or training (NEET), which is the challenging group, grew from less than 11 % to more than 13 %.
Recently published data, for 2010, shows signs of rising poverty in many Member States, especially in the Baltic States, Spain and Ireland. Subgroups suffering the most obvious effects of the crisis are those who were already at greater risk before the crisis and with weaker links to the labour market, namely young adults, families with children and especially single parents. The effects of fiscal consolidation measures vary greatly across Member States. A recent analysis evaluating the likely distributional impacts of the austerity packages in six EU countries shows that careful design of the measures is crucial to avoid that the most vulnerable bear the brunt of austerity.
The labour market situation of third-country nationals remains difficult in most Member States and the economic downturn has exacerbated the gap with nationals. Likewise, the low-skilled suffered the most pronounced, longest-lasting effects of the crisis. In terms of underlying developments, within an overall weak employment growth, job creation again became balanced between permanent and temporary jobs in the second quarter of 2011. The young remain the most disadvantaged, since fewer and fewer young people hold a permanent job or a full-time job. In the same period, employment inflows were gradually slowing down, while employment outflows were again on the rise, fuelling the decrease in employment and an increase in unemployment. Most Member states experienced these trends.
Additionally, this Review presents the newly calculated indicators supplementing the unemployment rate, and the latest demographic trends and data on migrations. The analysis of the social trends focuses on the social impact of the crisis and of austerity measures, as well as on the financial situation of households. Finally, the situations in the energy sector and in nine selected Member States are analysed in greater detail.