According to Eurostat data released on Monday, the unemployment rate in the eurozone remained stable at 6.5 percent of the labor force in November of 2022, after it had reached its lowest level ever in October. Year-on-year, the unemployment rate declined by 0.6 percentage points, thanks to the post-Covid economic recovery.

The indicator has reached its lowest levels since the European statistics office began compiling the series in April of 1998. Eurostat data are based on the International Labour Office (ILO) definition of unemployment. Unemployed persons are defined as those who have actively sought work in the previous four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks.

For the European Union as a whole, the unemployment rate amounted to 6 percent, also stable over a month and at a record low.

While the sharp downturn in growth, caused by the war in Ukraine, and soaring inflation cloud the outlook for the coming months, this has not yet had an impact on employment figures.

However, young people continue to be particularly affected: The unemployment rate for those under 25 years of age reached 15.1 percent last November in both the EU and the eurozone, up 0.1 percentage points from October 2022.

Highest EU youth unemployment in Spain

This trend is particularly apparent in Spain. The country’s labor market ended 2022 with the lowest unemployment figure since 2007. 2.83 million people were unemployed. In 2022 a labor reform came into force that limited temporary work contracts and led to an increase of more than 4.9 million permanent contracts compared to 2021.

However, the most striking aspect of the Spanish labor market is the youth unemployment figure, which according to the latest data published by the EU statistics office, Eurostat, stood at 32.3 percent in November, making it the highest in the European Union (EU).

Brain drain in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, youth unemployment is one of the most pressing issues.

It has reached a peak of almost 40 percent. Research has shown that the impossibility of inability finding a job is the main reason why young people are leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in droves. According to The Economist magazine, BiH is at the top of the list with the greatest brain drain, and the fact that as many as 51.3 percent of young people still residing in the country are interested in leaving BiH is worrying.

There are numerous reasons for this. One is the fact that the country went through a less than successful economic transition process. Another issue is an inadequate education system that has not been modernized, as well as low incomes. Data also indicates that the most common reasons for leaving are the unstable political situation in the country and the belief in greater chances elsewhere.

Difficult living conditions despite work for Europe’s youth

But even in countries where youth unemployment is declining, living conditions can be difficult for young people. In Slovenia, the number of unemployed people declined by nearly a fifth year-on-year dropped in December. A total of 53,181 unemployed persons were registered with the employment service. This number includes young people (aged 19-25), who accounted for around 20 percent, a decrease of 18.7 percent year-on-year. Employment services estimate that Slovenia has a record low unemployment rate for those under the age of 29. Only a few years ago, more than 40,000 young people were unemployed.

However, the agency notes that the young often enter the labor market without appropriate skills and blames this on the education system. The youth trade union Mladi Plus warns of the hidden unemployment of young people who are not included in the records, but often have precarious jobs.

In Bulgaria, youth unemployment dropped significantly from 18 percent in September 2021.  According to Eurostat data, the rate amounted to  10.9 percent in November 2022, just over 4 percent below the EU’s average. However, the share of young Bulgarians working in the shadow economy is twice as high as in their parents’ generation, according to a nationwide representative survey on Bulgarians’ tolerance for unregulated economic practices, conducted in 2022 by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (IPS) in collaboration with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Poor despite work

Italy faces inequality over different wage types. The spread of non-standard forms of work has contributed to a deterioration in the overall quality of employment, which in turn leads to lower average wage levels. The combination of low hourly wages and short-term employment contracts results in sharply reduced annual wage levels.

According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics annual report 2022, about 4 million employees in the private sector (excluding agricultural and domestic work) are low-paid low wages. This means they have a gross annual income of less than 12,000 euros. About 1.3 million employees receive low hourly wages of less than 8.41 euros. For 1 million employees, the two elements come together. These are mainly young people under 34 years of age, women and foreigners, with low educational qualifications, residing in the South and employed in the service sector.

Germany faces shortage of skilled workers

After a year marked by the pandemic, the war, inflation and the energy crisis, Germany’s unemployment rate has remained stable overall, despite a seasonal uptick in December, an official said on January 3rd.

In November 2022, Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rate in the EU at 5.8 percent, Eurostat data reveals. The country sees its greatest challenges for 2023 in the shortage of skilled workers.

Federal Employment Agency chief Andrea Nahles predicted further uncertainty for 2023, noting the shortage of skilled workers. She said one of the aims for the year ahead would be to improve Germany’s dual training system, after there had been a lull due to Covid-19.

In Germany, vocational training in the dual system means that trainees divide their time between education at a vocational school and training at a company. Nahles also said that further key measures to mitigate the shortage of qualified professionals would be the attraction of skilled immigrants and the qualification and further training of employees and those unemployed.

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