Unemployment in the EU27 remained at its decade-high level of 9.6 percent in March, the same as the previous month, although a further 123,000 citizens lost their jobs compared to the previous month. The bloc’s unemployed now number over 23 million.
The new figures released on Friday (30 April) by the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, showed marked differences between member states. The Netherlands and Austria take up one end of the unemployment spectrum on 4.1 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. At the other end of the scale, Latvia and Spain are on 22.3 percent and 19.1 percent.
Compared to one year ago, only Germany has seen employment levels rise, with the government offering subsidies to companies putting workers on shorter hours rather than laying them off directly. The other 26 EU member states witnessed a fall in employment levels. German annual unemployment fell from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent, with the highest increases seen in Latvia, where joblessness jumped from 14.3 percent to 22.3 percent over the same period.
The head of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), John Monks, said youth employment was a particular concern.”There is a real risk of seeing a lost generation,” he said in a monthly newsletter. “The trade union movement is convinced that youth employment must be the priority of any European recovery plan.”