Back Employment rate stable in Q1/2020 compared with Q4/2019


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In the EU, in the first quarter of 2020, the employment rate of people aged 20-64 was 73.3%. Over the past 20 years, the employment rate has been on an upwards trend – the rate was 8.1 percentage points (p.p.) higher in the first quarter of 2020 than in the first quarter of 2000 (65.2%). This increase was mainly due to the substantial and steady growth in employment of people aged 55-64, which rose from 34.7% in the first quarter of 2000 to 59.7% in the first quarter of 2020.

Comparing the first quarter of 2020 (2020Q1) with the fourth quarter of 2019 (2019Q4), the share of people in employment remained at the same level (i.e. 73.3%), recording the second flat growth between two quarters since 2013. A decrease in the employment rate can nevertheless be observed for young people aged 15-24, going from 33.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 33.3% in the first quarter of 2020.

Young women and young men experienced a similar decrease in their employment rate over the last two quarters: from 31.1% to 30.7% for young women and from 35.9% to 35.6% for young men.


Employment rate by age group, Q1/2000 to Q1/2020

The employment rate remained stable between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 in most Member States. However, the employment rates in Malta, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal fluctuated by more than 0.5 p.p. between the two quarters (an increase of 1.6 p.p. in Malta and a decrease of 1.9 p.p. in Luxembourg, of 0.9 p.p. in Spain and of 0.7 p.p. in Portugal). Changes of 0.5 p.p. were registered in Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland (decreases for all four) and Romania (increase).

Fewer people employed in elementary occupations

Comparing the first quarter of 2020 with the first quarter of 2019, the number of people employed in elementary occupations was lower in 17 out of 26 Member States for which data are available. There was also a decline in the number of craft and related trades workers in 16 Member States during the same period.

However, the number of employed professionals increased in 22 EU Member States and the number of managers rose in 16 Member States during the same period. The number of technicians and associate professionals also increased during this period in 14 EU Member States.


For more information, take a look at the Statistics Explained articles on Employment - quarterly statistics and Employment in detail - quarterly statistics.




  • For the first quarter of 2020, German data has been estimated due to technical issues with the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, including the Labour Force Survey. The estimate is not published separately but is included in the EU aggregate.
  • The category of professionals encompasses people working as professionals in various domains: science and engineering, health, teaching, business and administration, information and communications technology and finally, in legal, social and cultural fields and generally with high skill level (see for further information the ISCO-08 structure). The elementary occupations involve the performance of simple and routine tasks which may require the use of hand-held tools and considerable physical effort. Craft and related trades workers apply specific technical and practical knowledge and skills to construct and maintain buildings; form metal; erect metal structures; set machine tools or make, fit, maintain and repair machinery, equipment or tools; carry out printing work; and produce or process foodstuffs, textiles, wooden, metal and other articles, including handicraft goods.
  • The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.


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