The growth in European employment levels has remained robust, according to the winter 2008 Quarterly EU Labor Market Review, published on 18 February.
In the last quarter of 2007, employment rates in the EU showed an increase of over 800,000 compared with the previous quarter and as much as 3.5 million over the whole year, defying lower growth rates. The backbone of this ongoing growth has been strong labor market performances, particularly in Germany (where unemployment decreased by 1.6% to 7.9%), Poland (-3,8%) and the new member states.
Overall, EU employment has risen to 66% (up from 65% in 2006), with unemployment rates now having fallen to levels not seen since the early 1970s (down to 6.9% from 7.7% in 2006), according to Eurostat. Despite the improvements, Poland remains among the countries with the lowest employment rate (57.8%), with only Malta (56.1%) and Hungary (57.7%) performing worse. Denmark – although witnessing a 1% decrease over the last year - remains the front runner in terms of employment rates (77.1%) followed by the Netherlands and Sweden. Countries such as the UK or Portugal contradicted the trend, with employment rates showing only minor improvements compared to the last quarter and even decreasing over the last year (-0.3% and -0.1% respectively).
Encouraging results have also been identified among young people, where unemployment has continued to decrease (from 16.5% to 14.9%). The Commission said that the labor market has benefited from healthy levels of economic growth and the ongoing confidence of firms as well as improvements related to past structural reform. (Euraktiv)