Archive:Labour market statistics introduced

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Latest update of text: June 2017. Planned article update: June 2018.

Labour market statistics are at the juxtaposition of economic and social domains. Market outcomes within the labour market directly affect not only the economy, but also the personal lives of virtually all Europeans. From an economic viewpoint, these statistics address labour as an input for economic activity, providing measures in relation to hours worked, labour productivity, vacant posts, wage levels, labour costs, and so on. However, labour market statistics also shed light on social and socioeconomic matters, such as the jobless (unemployed persons), earnings and their structural components, social inequalities (for example, the gender pay gap), working patterns and social integration. As such, Eurostat statistics cover both the supply and the demand side of the labour market, offering data for short-term and structural analyses, as well as in monetary and non-monetary terms.

In addition, the portfolio of labour market statistics collected by the European Commission includes measures for labour market policy interventions. These are public interventions in the labour market targeted at the unemployed, persons who are employed but at risk of involuntary job loss, and inactive persons.

The European Commission has also launched an initiative to provide an overview of developments in labour markets, through the collection of information on job vacancies, job seekers, hiring and skills requirements. It is hoped that this information can be used as an early-warning tool by policymakers to identify bottlenecks and mismatches within the labour market.

Skills, jobs and youth employment policies

Labour markets within the EU are characterised by the freedom of movement of workers, which means that every EU national has the right to work and to live in any EU Member States. While there was an increase in employment rates and levels in most EU Member States during the period 2000–08, the financial and economic crisis reversed many of these developments: unemployment surged, there was a tendency for shorter working hours and real incomes fell in some areas.

The European employment strategy seeks to create more and better jobs throughout the EU. Through an open method of coordination it provides a framework for EU Member States to share information, and to discuss and coordinate their employment policies. With the aim of stimulating economic recovery, the European Commission set up the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Two of its flagship initiatives concerned labour market issues, namely ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’ and ‘Youth on the move’ (which came to an end in December 2014). These promoted a range of actions aimed at education and training institutions, measures for the creation of a (work) environment conducive to higher activity rates and higher labour productivity, and initiatives aimed at facilitating the entry of young people into the labour market. The Europe 2020 strategy includes five headline targets for measuring progress, one of these being specific to the labour market: namely, to ensure that by 2020, three quarters (75 %) of 20 to 64 year-olds in the EU-28 are employed. In order to achieve this target the European Commission has identified a range of actions, namely, to:

  • reinforce the notion of ‘flexicurity’ in national labour markets;
  • develop a new concept relating to the ‘quality of work’;
  • explore the impact of employment policies on wages and taxation;
  • develop guiding principles towards policies that support job creation;
  • promote measures for youth employment and self-employment;
  • and explore the impact of climate change on labour markets.

In December 2012, in the face of high and still rising youth unemployment in several EU Member States, the European Commission proposed a youth employment package, titled ‘Moving Youth into Employment’ (COM(2012) 727 final). This provided several proposals, including:

  • that all young people up to the age of 25 should receive a quality offer of a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed;
  • a consultation of European social partners on a quality framework for traineeships to enable young people to acquire high-quality work experience under safe conditions;
  • a European alliance for apprenticeships to improve the quality and supply of apprenticeships available and outlining ways to reduce obstacles to mobility for young people.

Otherwise, nationally, governments use a range of labour market interventions to promote the efficient functioning of markets and the correction of disequilibria, by selectively targeting certain groups in society. Public employment services are one example of such an intervention, seeking to match job seekers with vacant posts. Governments may also decide to use a range of alternative measures to provide (temporary) support to disadvantaged groups, such as: training initiatives, job rotation and job sharing schemes, employment incentives, supported employment and rehabilitation, direct job creation, or start-up incentives.

In April 2013 the Council recommended establishing a Youth Guarantee according to which all young people under 25 — whether registered with employment services or not — should get a good-quality, concrete offer within four months of them leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The good-quality offer should be for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education and be adapted to each individual need and situation. To make the Youth Guarantee a reality, it was recommended that national budgets should prioritise youth employment to avoid higher costs in the future. The EU will top-up national spending on these schemes through the European Social Fund and the EUR 6 billion Youth Employment Initiative.

Indeed, one of the main priorities of the College of Commissioners that entered into office in 2014 is to focus on boosting jobs, growth and investment, with the goal of cutting regulation, making smarter use of existing financial resources and public funds. In November 2014, the European Commission provided an outline of its strategy through the annual growth survey (AGS), which launched the European Semester. In February 2015, it published a series of country reports, analysing the economic policies of EU Member States and providing information on EU Member States priorities for the coming year to boost growth and job creation. In the same month, the European Commission also proposed to make EUR 1 billion from the Youth Employment Initiative available in 2015 so as to increase by up to 30 times the pre-financing EU Member States could receive to boost youth employment rates, helping up to 650 000 young people into work. EU Member States are developing a set of national Youth Guarantee implementation plans.

In June 2016 the European Commission adopted a Skills Agenda for Europe (COM(2016) 381/2) under the heading ‘Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness’. This is intended to ensure that people develop the skills necessary for now and the future, in order to boost employability, competitiveness and growth across the EU. Specifically, it proposes 10 actions, including: a skills guarantee, a review of the recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning, a review of the European qualifications framework, launching of a digital skills and jobs coalition (between education, employment and industry), a blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills to improve skills intelligence and address sectoral shortages, and an initiative on graduate tracking.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

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