EU-wide review paints gloomy picture
By Sophie Petitjean | Wednesday 27 June 2012
Rising unemployment, increasing financial distress, worsening living conditions and falling levels of disposable income... According to a quarterly review published by the European Commission, on 27 June, with few exceptions, the employment market and the social situation in Europe have significantly deteriorated during the last few months.
“These findings underline the urgent need for a robust solution to the current economic and financial crisis, and more specifically for each member state to implement the country-specific recommendations and measures outlined in the employment package,” commented the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor.
The quarterly review, written by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs, should further increase pressure on European leaders during their summit meeting, on 28-29 June.
The review confirms that unemployment has risen in most member states, bringing it to above 10% since early 2012. On average, employment for a non-fixed period and temporary jobs, as well as independent work, all declined in the second quarter of 2012 in the EU. However, inactivity rates have recently been falling due to the significantly increased participation of women and older workers in the employment market, while men, young people, foreigners and low-qualified workers remain the most affected by the deterioration of conditions on the job market. The construction sector has lost the largest number of workers (9% since the start of the crisis in 2008).
The deterioration of the job market has adversely affected European households; since early 2012, there has been a sharp rise in the number of households having to draw on savings or go into debt in order to cover their running costs. This situation is particularly bad in Italy and Spain, where the rates of financial distress have risen from 16% to 26%, and from 23% to 33%, respectively, over the year to April. Moreover, the number of people unable to deal with unforeseen expenses has considerably increased since 2008 in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Bulgaria. The number of people unable to pay their electricity bills also increased massively between 2008 and 2010 in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ireland and Estonia.
The report pays special attention to migratory flows precipitated by the crisis, and confirms that worker mobility from Southern European countries and Ireland has increased (particularly in the form of circular migration). The main destination countries in the EU are Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom, while outside the EU, Australia seems to attract many Irish workers.