EU labour market - quarterly statistics

This is the stable Version.


Data extracted in July 2021

Planned article update: 14 October 2021

Highlights


In the first quarter of 2021, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 was 71.9 %, and labour market slack stood at 14.8 % .
Today, Eurostat publishes for the first time quarterly EU-LFS data under the Integrated European Social Statistics Regulation.
Employment rate and labour market slack in the EU
(From Q1 2009 to Q1 2021, in %, age group 20-64, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_sla_q) and (lfsi_emp_q)

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. In the particular context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures applied to combat it, these indicators, taken together, capture the most recent movements on the labour market in the EU Member States.


Full article

Employment rate and labour market slack in the EU

In the first quarter 2021, the seasonally adjusted employment rate for the age group 20-64 in the EU stood at 71.9 %. The labour market slack, which comprises all people who have an unmet need for employment, amounted to 14.8 % of the extended labour force aged 20-64 in the first quarter 2021. Its main component is unemployment, which stood at 7.1 % of the extended labour force. Underemployed part-time workers made up 3.0 %, those available for work but not searching for work were 4.1 %, and those actively searching for work but not available to take up work stood at 0.7 %, all in percentage of the extended labour force.

Figure 1: Employment rate and labour market slack in the EU
(From Q1 2009 to Q1 2021, in %, age group 20-64, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_sla_q) and (lfsi_emp_q)

Employment and labour market slack in the EU Member States

Among Member States, the highest employment rates in the first quarter of 2021Q1 were recorded in the Netherlands (81.0 %), Sweden (79.5 %), Czechia and Estonia both 79.4 %. The lowest employment rates were observed in Greece (58.3 %), Italy (61.1 %) and Spain (66.6 %). These three countries also showed the highest labour market slack rates at (25.1 %, 25.0 % and 25.2 % respectively). Total labour market slack was lowest in Czechia (4.4 %), Malta (6.1 %) and Poland (6.7 %).

Figure 2: Employment rate and labour market slack
(2021Q1, age group 20-64, in percentage, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_emp_q) and (lfsi_sla_q)


Gender gap in employment

The gender employment gap is the difference, in percentage points, of the employment rate for men and the employment rate for women for a specific age group. In the first quarter 2021, the gender employment gap for the age group 20-64 stood at 11.3 percentage points (pp) in the EU. The highest gaps in the Member States were observed in Romania (21.8 pp), Greece (20.2 pp) and Italy (19.5 pp). The lowest gender employment gaps in the first quarter 2021 were recorded in Lithuania (2.4 pp), Finland (2.8 pp), and Portugal (5.3 pp).

Figure 3: Gender employment gap in the EU Member States
(2021Q1, age group 20-64, in percentage points, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (lfsi_emp_q)


Unemployment in the EU Member States

The unemployment rate in the EU for the age group 20-64 was 7.5 % of the labour force in the first quarter 2021. For men, it stood at 7.2 %, and the unemployment rate for women of that age group was 7.8 %. Among Member States, the highest unemployment rates were recorded in Greece (16.2 %) and Spain (15.7 %). These countries also showed the highest rates for both men and women, and the highest percentage point differences between the unemployment rates for men and women. The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Czechia (3.3 %), Malta (3.8 %) and Poland (4.0 %). The lowest unemployment rate for men was observed in Czechia (2.5 %) and the lowest rate for women in Germany (3.6 %).

Figure 4: Unemployment in the EU Member States
(2021Q1, age group 20-64, in percentage points, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_q)


Main indicators

Employment, unemployment and labour market slack in first quarter 2021
(age group 20 to 64, seasonally adjusted data)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_q), (lfsi_sla_q) and (lfsi_emp_q)


Data sources

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

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.

The labour market indicators published for the first quarter 2021 are based for the first time on the EU-LFS under the new Framework Regulation 2019/1700 (hereinafter "IESS"). The new Regulation further improves harmonisation and comparability of labour market data in the EU.


Main methodological changes from IESS

The main changes involved by the new Regulation are:

  • persons on parental leave, and who are either receiving job-related income or benefits, or whose parental leave is expected to last 3 months or less, are counted as employed;
  • persons raising agricultural products for own-consumption are excluded from employment;
  • seasonal workers outside the season are classified as employed if they still regularly perform tasks and duties for the job or business during the off-season;
  • people with a job or business who were temporarily not at work during the reference week but with strong attachment to their job are still considered as employed. In the particular context of the COVID-19 crisis and the measures applied to combat it, national specificities exist in the assessment of the job attachment;
  • not employed people are considered searching for a job only if they use an active search method;
  • further harmonisation in the implementation of questions and modernisation of the survey at national level.

As foreseen under IESS, the countries are currently carrying out an analysis of the impact of the changes due to be completed at the end of 2021.


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


Country notes:

  • In Germany, 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 both the publication of German results and 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. In 2021 Q1, data of one federal region, Bremen, is not included in the estimates, but national estimates are reweighted to respect population margins.
  • Spain and France have assessed the attachment to the job and included in employment those who have an unknown duration of absence but expect to return to the same job once the COVID-19 measures in place are lifted.
  • The Netherlands have continued during 2021 to also publish monthly unemployment following the definitions used before IESS in order to ensure data quality and quality of back-calculations.


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) are actively seeking work during the last 4 weeks but not available for work in the next 2 weeks; or (b) found a job to start within a period of at most 3 months and are not available for work in the next 2 weeks’; or (c) found a job to start in more than 3 months but are not available for work in the next 2 weeks.

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

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.

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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)