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EU labour market - quarterly statistics - Statistics Explained
    

EU labour market - quarterly statistics


Data extracted in April 2021

Planned article update: July 2021

Highlights


In the fourth quarter of 2020, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 was 72.6 %, 0.3 percentage points higher than in the third quarter of 2020.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the labour market slack of people aged 20 to 64 was 13.7 %, 0.4 percentage points lower than in the third quarter of 2020.
[[File:EU labour market - quarterly statistics Q4 2020 V5.xlsx]]

Change in the labour market slack and employment in the EU Member States (Q4 compared to Q3 2020, age group 20-64, in pp, seasonally adjusted data)

The labour market developments in the EU were influenced in 2020 by the containment measures taken to cope with the health crisis. In the fourth quarter of 2020, in many EU Member States, the slight recovery in employment observed in the third quarter continued. At EU level, the share of employed people increased between the third and the fourth quarter of 2020. In parallel, this increase was accompanied by a decrease in unemployment, as well as by a decrease in the overall labour market slack.

This article presents seasonally adjusted quarterly indicators on employment and labour market slack, which comprises all persons who have an unmet need for employment, including unemployed people. Together these indicators capture the most recent movements on the labour market in the EU Member States.


Full article


Employment up, labour market slack down

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 188.7 million persons in the EU were employed. The EU seasonally adjusted employment rate for people aged 20-64 stood at 72.6 %, up by 0.3 percentage points (p.p.) from 72.3 % in the third quarter of 2020. In addition, 14.4 million persons were unemployed. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the EU seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1 %, 0.3 p.p. lower than in the third quarter of 2020 when it was 7.4 %. At the same time, seasonally adjusted total labour market slack in the EU, consisting of unmet need for work, amounted to 29.1 million persons, which represented 13.7 % of the extended labour force in the fourth quarter 2020, down from 14.1 % in the third quarter 2020 (-0.4 p.p.).

Figure 1: Labour market slack and employment in the EU
(From Q1 2008 to Q4 2020, in %, age group 20-64, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_sla_q) and (lfsi_emp_q)


Concerning young people aged 15 to 24, the labour market slack decreased from 31.7 % to 31.1 % from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2020, which corresponds to a drop of 0.6 p.p. Also, for comparison purposes, the employment rate of people aged 55 to 64 increased in the EU from 59.7 % to 60.2 % (+0.5 p.p.) within one quarter, between the third and the fourth quarter of 2020.

Labour market slack decreased the most in Luxembourg and Portugal

Overall labour market slack decreased in 16 EU Member States in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the third quarter of 2020, it remained stable in one, and increased in 10 Member States. The highest decreases were found in Luxembourg (-1.9 p.p.) and Portugal (-1.4 p.p.). The highest increases were reported in Croatia (+0.9 p.p.) and Lithuania (+0.5 p.p.), followed by Slovakia, Slovenia, Czechia and Finland, all four reporting an increase of 0.4 p.p.

Employment rose in the majority of EU Member States (18 countries), remained stable in four Member States, and slightly decreased in five countries. These five countries were Slovakia, Belgium (both reporting a decrease of 0.3 p.p.), Austria (-0.2 p.p.), Cyprus and Hungary (both with a very slight decrease of 0.1 p.p.). By contrast, the highest increases in employment were recorded in Luxembourg (+2.1 p.p.) and Estonia (+1.2 p.p.), followed by Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Romania, where the increase in the employment rate was situated between 0.6 p.p. and 0.8 p.p., as displayed in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Change in the labour market slack and employment in the EU Member States
(Q4 compared to Q3 2020, age group 20-64, in percentage points, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_emp_q) and (lfsi_sla_q)

Focus on the gender gap in employment development

Looking at the development of the employment rate, the difference between men and women in the EU amounted to 0.2 p.p. between the third and the fourth quarter of 2020. The employment rate of women increased by 0.4 p.p. while the employment rate of men increased by 0.2 p.p. The biggest gaps among EU Member States were found in Estonia (1.9 p.p., due to an increase of 2.2 p.p. for women and 0.3 p.p. for men), Bulgaria (1.0 p.p. due to an increase of 0.1 p.p. for women and 1.1 p.p. for men), Sweden (0.9 p.p. due to a decrease of 0.3 p.p. for women and an increase of 0.6 p.p. for men) and Croatia (0.9 p.p. due to an increase of 0.8 p.p. for women and a decrease of 0.1 p.p. for men). By contrast, as it is shown in Figure 3, the employment rate for men and women changed exactly to the same extent in Czechia and Slovakia.

Figure 3: Change in the employment rate by gender in the EU Member States
(Q4 compared to Q3 2020, age group 20-64, in percentage points, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_emp_q)

Fewer unemployed people in more than half of the EU Member States

Between the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2020, the share of unemployed people in the labour force fell in the majority of EU Member States: to be precise 18 out of 27 (see Figure 4). The unemployment rate decreased the most in Luxembourg (-1.4 p.p.), followed by Italy, Ireland and Portugal (all three with -0.7 p.p.). On the other end of the scale, eight countries reported an increase in unemployment: Bulgaria (+0.3 p.p.), Lithuania, Czechia, Slovenia, Slovakia (the four of them with +0.2 p.p.), Spain, Finland and Estonia (all three with +0.1 p.p.). In the Netherlands, the unemployment rate remained unchanged between the third and fourth quarter of 2020.

Figure 4: Change in unemployment in the EU Member States
(Q4 compared to Q3 2020, age group 20-64, in percentage points, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_q)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

All figures in this article are based on seasonally adjusted quarterly results from the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS).

Main indicators

Annex table: Employment, unemployment and labour market slack in fourth quarter 2020
(age group 20 to 64, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_q), (lfsi_sla_q) and (lfsi_emp_q)

Source: The European Union labour force survey (EU-LFS) is the largest European household sample survey providing quarterly and annual results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over as well as on persons outside the labour force. It covers residents in private households. Conscripts in military or community service are not included in the results. The EU-LFS is based on the same target populations and uses the same definitions in all countries, which means that the results are comparable between countries.

European aggregates: EU refers to the sum of EU-27 Member States.

Country note: In Germany, from the first quarter of 2020 onwards, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) has been integrated into the newly designed German microcensus as a subsample. Unfortunately, for the LFS, technical issues and the COVID-19 crisis have had a large impact on data collection processes, resulting in low response rates and a biased sample. For this reason, the full sample of the whole microcensus has been used to estimate a restricted set of indicators for the four quarters of 2020 for the production of LFS Main Indicators. These estimates have been used for the publication of German results, but also for the calculation of EU and EA aggregates. By contrast, EU and EA aggregates published in the Detailed quarterly results (showing more and different breakdowns than the LFS Main Indicators) have been computed using only available data from the LFS subsample. As a consequence, small differences in the EU and EA aggregates in tables from both collections may be observed. For more information, see here.

Methods and definitions: Eurostat produces harmonised labour market data for individual EU Member States, the euro area and the EU. The concepts and definitions used in the Labour Force Survey follow the guidelines of the International Labour Organisation.

Employed persons are all persons who worked at least one hour for pay or profit during the reference week or unpaid for a business owned by a member of the family, or were temporarily absent from such work. The employment rate is the percentage of employed persons in relation to the total population.

Unemployed persons are all persons who:

  • are without work;
  • are available to start work within two weeks;
  • and have actively sought employment at some time during the previous four weeks.

The labour market slack is the sum of unemployed persons, underemployed part-time workers, persons seeking work but not immediately available and persons available to work but not seeking, expressed as percentage of the extended labour force.

Underemployed part-time workers are persons working part-time who wish to work additional hours and are available to do so. Part-time work is recorded as self-reported by individuals.

Persons seeking work but not immediately available are the sum of persons neither employed nor unemployed who: (a) were actively seeking work during the last 4 weeks but are not available for work in the next 2 weeks; or (b) found a job to start in less than 3 months and are not available for work in the next 2 weeks; or (c) found a job to start in 3 months or more; or (d) were passively seeking work during the last 4 weeks and are available for work in the next 2 weeks.

Persons available to work but not seeking are persons neither employed nor unemployed who want to work, are available for work in the next 2 weeks but were not seeking work.

The extended labour force is the total number of people employed plus unemployed, plus those seeking work but not immediately available plus those available to work but not seeking. In this article, data cover persons aged 20 to 64.

Five different articles on detailed technical and methodological information are linked from the overview page of the online publication EU Labour Force Survey.

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LFS main indicators (lfsi)
Unemployment - LFS adjusted series (une)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment - annual data (lfsi_sup_a)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment - quarterly data (lfsi_sup_q)
LFS series - Detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
Total unemployment - LFS series (lfsa_unemp)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment by sex and age (lfsa_sup_age)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment by sex and educational attainment level (lfsa_sup_edu)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment by sex and citizenship (lfsa_sup_nat)
LFS series - Detailed quarterly survey results (lfsq)
Total unemployment - LFS series (lfsq_unemp)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment by sex and age (lfsq_sup_age)
Supplementary indicators to unemployment by sex and educational attainment level (lfsq_sup_edu)