Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 08/11/2019

Labour market and wage developments in Europe defy economic slowdown

The European Commission has published the 2019 edition of the report “Labour Market and Wage Developments in Europe” confirming that the European labour market has so far proven to be resilient to the weakening of the economy.

Labour market and wage developments in Europe defy economic slowdown

Standing at 241 million, the number of people employed in the EU is at its highest level ever, and the EU’s unemployment rate stands at its lowest level ever recorded.

Marianne Thyssen, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “It is good to see that the European labour market is still going strong. But some clouds on the horizon should act as a wake-up call: Building skills is more important than ever before. I therefore welcome the enthusiasm I encountered at the fourth European Vocational Skills Week, which took place mid-October in Helsinki. Investment in education and training remains the key policy action for the years to come.”

As in previous years, the fall in unemployment was stronger than expected based on the pace of economic growth. High unemployment countries, including Croatia, Greece, Spain and Portugal, experienced high employment growth, further decreasing divergences across countries. The fall in unemployment partly reflects improvements in the structural features of the labour market. Reforms enacted after the 2008 crisis contributed to this.

This being said, while wages continued to rise, their average growth remained moderate. As in previous years, wage growth was higher in Central and Eastern European countries, contributing to wage convergence across the EU. Changes of tax and benefit systems put in place after 2008 have lowered inequality in almost all countries and the proportion of people with income below the poverty line.

Nevertheless, in about half of the Member States the poorest people experienced a worsening of living conditions. The Commission report also reviews skill mismatches in light of the changing world of work. The analysis suggests that the introduction of technologies that reduce the demand for workers performing routine tasks may increase skill mismatches.

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