Unemployment statistics at regional level
Data extracted in April 2021.
Next article update: April 2022.
Unemployment rates in the EU regions ranged from 1.8 % to 27.8 % in 2020
In almost a sixth of EU regions, the majority of the unemployed were out of work for at least a year
This article provides an overview of regional unemployment rates across the 240 NUTS 2 regions of the European Union's (EU) Member States in 2020, compiled by Eurostat on the basis of data from the EU Labour Force Survey.
Regional unemployment rates and the EU average
Unemployment rates in the EU regions ranged from 1.8 % to 27.8 % in 2020
In 2020, the year of the COVID-19 outbreak, the unemployment rate of people aged 15-74 increased in the majority of the NUTS 2 regions of the EU. It continued to vary widely across the EU regions, with the lowest unemployment rate recorded in the Polish region Wielkopolskie (1.8 %), in two Czech regions: Central Bohemia (1.9 %) and South-West (2.0 %), one further Polish region, Lubuskie (2.2 %), followed by three further Czech regions: Prague, North-East and South-East (all 2.3 %). At the opposite end of the scale, the highest unemployment rates were registered in Mayotte (27.8 %), an overseas region of France, the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta (24.5 %) and Melilla (23.7 %) and two Spanish regions, Canary Islands (22.6 %) and Andalusia (22.3 %).
A fifth of EU regions with an unemployment rate half or less of the EU average
Among the 229 EU regions for which data are available, 52 had an unemployment rate of 3.6 % or less in 2020, half the average of the EU (7.1 %). They included thirteen regions in Poland, twelve in Germany, seven in Czechia, six in the Netherlands, four in Hungary, three each in Austria and Belgium, two in Bulgaria, as well as one each in Romania and Slovakia.
In contrast, 27 regions had an unemployment rate of at least 14.2 %, double that of the EU: eleven regions were in Greece, nine in Spain, four in France and three in Italy.
In 2019, the unemployment rate in the EU was the lowest recorded since 2000. However, this decline in unemployment rates did not continue in 2020. Instead, compared with 2019, the unemployment rate in the EU in 2020 increased by 0.4 percentage points (pp). The majority of the regions registered an increase in their unemployment rate.
Compared with 2019, less than one third (31 %) of the EU’s regions saw their unemployment rate for persons aged 15-74 fall. The highest decreases were registered in the Greek region of West Macedonia (-4.9 pp), in Réunion (-3.9 pp), an overseas region of France, the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla (-3.3 pp) and two overseas regions of France, French Guiana (-3.2 pp) and Guadeloupe (-3.1 pp).
In contrast, the highest increase in unemployment rates between 2019 and 2020 was recorded in the Greek region of Crete (5.6 pp), in the Balearic Islands (4.3 pp) in Spain, in the Ionian Islands (3.6 pp) and South Aegean (3.0 pp) in Greece, as well as in Champagne-Ardenne (2.6 pp) in France.
Regional variations in youth unemployment
Youth unemployment rates varied from 5 % in Prague in Czechia to 71 % in Melilla in Spain
In 2020, the average unemployment rate for young people aged between 15 and 24 in the EU was 16.9 %. However, there are marked regional differences in the unemployment rates for young people. The lowest rate was recorded in the Czech capital city region Prague (5.0 %), followed by another Czech region South-West and Dutch region Zeeland (both 5.4 %), as well as South-East (6.8 %) in Czechia, Central Bohemia in Czechia and Łódzkie in Poland (both 7.4 %), North-East (7.5 %) in Czechia and Małopolskie (7.6 %) in Poland.
By contrast, the highest rate was recorded in the Spanish region Melilla (71.0 %), followed by the Greek region Central Greece (63.6 %), Ceuta (63.1 %) in Spain, Mayotte in France (55.4 %) as well as the Canary Islands (51.6 %) in Spain.
In over 96 % of the EU regions for which data are available, the unemployment rate for young people was at least twice that of total unemployment in the same region.
Compared with 2019, the youth unemployment rate in the EU in 2020 increased by 1.8 percentage points
The highest decrease in the unemployment rate for young people between 2019 and 2020 was recorded in Guadeloupe (-11.2 pp), an overseas region of France, in Attica (-10.8 pp) in Greece, in Martinique (-9.6 pp), an overseas region of France, in West Macedonia (-6.5 pp) in Greece and in Molise (-6.0 pp) in Italy.
On the other hand, the highest increases were registered in Central Greece (15.7 pp), in the two Spanish regions Balearic Islands (12.4 pp) and Cantabria (11.1 pp), in the Portuguese region Centre (10.6 pp) and the Spanish autonomous city of Ceuta (10.4 pp).
Long term unemployment in the EU regions
In almost a sixth of regions, the majority of the unemployed were out of work for at least a year
The long-term unemployment share, which is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, stood at 35.6 % on average in the EU in 2020. Across EU regions for which data are available, the lowest shares of long-term unemployed were recorded in the Czech capital city region Prague (11.0 %), the Swedish region Stockholm (11.5 %), the Polish region Śląskie (12.8 %), in West Sweden (13.0 %), as well as in North and East Finland (13.3 %).
On the other hand, the highest shares of long-term unemployed were registered in the French overseas region Mayotte (83.9 %), Epirus (75.8 %) in Greece, North-West (73.5 %) in Bulgaria, Central Macedonia (72.8 %) in Greece, as well as Attica in Greece and in the French overseas region Guadeloupe (both 71.4 %).
These data on regional unemployment, compiled on the basis of the EU Labour Force Survey, are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
These data are based on the 2016 version of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) as set out in the amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 2016/2066 of 21 November 2016. NUTS provides a uniform, consistent breakdown of territorial units for the production of European regional statistics. NUTS 2016 covers the period from 1 January 2018 until 31 December 2020.
NUTS level 2 has 240 regions in EU Member States: Belgium (11), Bulgaria (6), Czechia (8), Denmark (5), Germany (38), Ireland (3), Greece (13), Spain (19), France (27), Croatia (2), Italy (21), Lithuania (2), Hungary (8), the Netherlands (12), Austria (9), Poland (17), Portugal (7), Romania (8), Slovenia (2), Slovakia (4), Finland (5) and Sweden (8). Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta are all considered as single regions at NUTS 2 level.
The statistical regions in the candidate and EFTA countries follow the principles of the NUTS classification. However, there is no legal base. The data covers NUTS level 2 regions in Norway (7), Switzerland (7), Serbia (8) and Turkey (26). Iceland, Montenegro and North Macedonia are considered as single regions at NUTS level 2.
The European Union (EU) includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.
In the text of this article, the names of the regions are in English, while the detailed tables which can be downloaded below list regions in the national language as set out in the NUTS.
The unemployment rate is an important indicator with both social and economic dimensions. Rising unemployment results in a loss of income for individuals, increased pressure with respect to government spending on social benefits and a reduction in tax revenue. From an economic perspective, unemployment may be viewed as unused labour capacity.
Male, youth and long-term unemployment appear to be more susceptible to cyclical economic changes than overall unemployment. Indeed, social policymakers often face the challenge of remedying these situations by designing ways to increase employment opportunities for various groups of society, those working in particular economic activities, or those living in specific regions.
Methods and definitions
The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons aged 15-74 in the labour force population (which comprises the employed and unemployed persons, but excludes the persons outside the labour force).
According to the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation, a person is deemed to be unemployed if all three of the following conditions are met:
- he or she is without work during the survey reference week;
- he or she is available for work, being able to take up employment within two weeks;
- he or she has actively sought work over the past four weeks.
The youth unemployment rate is the number of people aged 15 to 24 unemployed as a percentage of the labour force of the same age. Therefore, the youth unemployment rate should not be interpreted as the share of jobless people in the overall youth population.
- France: The actual net sample for Corsica (FRM0) is too small to have reliable regional results and Mayotte (FRY5) is covered by a specific annual survey. As a result, data for these two regions should be treated with caution.
- Germany: Changes in the survey methodology have led to a break in the German data in 2020. Therefore, estimates for 2020 cannot be compared directly with those of previous years. In addition, the data collection was also impacted by technical issues and COVID-19 measures in 2020 and the published German data therefore show a low reliability in some regions. They are preliminary and may be revised in the future. For further information, please click here.
- European statistics Code of Practice (revised edition 2017)
- Regions, see:
- Regional labour market statistics (t_reg_lmk)
- LFS main indicators (t_lfsi)
- Unemployment - LFS adjusted series (t_une)
- LFS series - detailed annual survey results (t_lfsa)
- Unemployment rates of the population aged 25-64 by level of education (tps00066)
- Regions, see:
- Regional labour market statistics (reg_lmk)
- LFS main indicators (lfsi)
- Unemployment - LFS adjusted series (une)
- LFS series - detailed quarterly survey results (from 1998)
- Total unemployment - LFS series (lfsq_unemp)
- LFS series - Detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
- Total unemployment - LFS series (lfsa_unemp)
- Council Decision 2010/707/EU of 21 October 2010 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Guidelines for employment policies
- German regions excluded from comparison due to break in time series.