Europe has a long-term unemployment problem

Data source: OECD

What is long-term unemployment?

It’s the share of unemployed people who cannot find a job for 12 months or more, and it represents one of the biggest issues in terms of labor market and economic performance for the involved countries. Of course it’s a dramatic social malaise as well: “It’s one thing to lose a job, but it’s another not to be able to manage“.

If one considers total unemployment in 2012, the OECD countries have an average value of 34.3% for long-term unemployment. That is to say, more than one unemployed out of three cannot find a job for a year or more. But while USA is under 30% and South Korea is impressively around 0%, Europe shows the main problems.

ltuThis infographic shows the long-term unemployment percentage in Europe, 2012. The more a country is dark, the more it has l.t. unemployed. The minimul value is in Norway, 8.7% for non-EU country though. The maximum value is not in Greece as one might expect, rather in Slovakia with 63.7%. This means that the greatest part of the country’s unemployed people have been suffering that particular condition for a too long time.

It’s 53% in Italy, 45.5% in Germany, 44.5% in Spain, 40% in France, 34.8% in UK. As one can realize, the main European countries are far from being immune from this situation, and not only are anti-unemployment policies important, but more and more long-term unemployment needs to be tackled too.

Yes, young are hit hardest by crisis and job loss in Europe

That’s a fact.

In the previous post I analyzed the job loss at the European level, in terms of overall unemployment. Here I just consider the young (15-24), to prove that if you look for someone who’s been particularly hit by the crisis in Europe, you need to look at them.

This was the overall unemployment difference rate in Europe, before and after the 2008 crisis (if Southern Europe has any sign of the end of it):


That is: 6 years later, +6% in Italy, +1 or 2% in Northern Europe, and so on.

Now the next one only considers the 18-24:


The previous colors were not enough. It’s +5% in Netherlands, +6.4 in UK, +7.6 in France, +33.8% in Spain. This means that right now 54% of young spaniards cannot find a job. Plus, not only are data dramatic, but many young adults don’t seek  a job anymore  and they aren’t part of this numbers. There is big concern at the international level for this situation in Southern Europe: the World Bank talks about the “lost generation because of poor job opportunities.

But what if one compares the youth unemployment to the general one, in terms of intergenerational equity? What if we look at the differences between overall job loss and young job loss?

Let’s take the case of France. While in 6 years the general unemployment rate rose 3.4%, the youth one rose 7.6%. That’s a 4.2% difference and yes, analyzing data coming from different contexts is not correct, but it gives the idea of an additional intergenerational gap at the expense of the young.

What happens if one considers the whole EU in this light?

mamaIn red and dark red you can see the countries where young are hit the hardest, as they lost far more jobs in comparison to the general unemployment rate.

Of course, that blue state right in the middle is Germany: the only country in the EU where, after 6 years of global economic crisis, young jobseekers are less than before.


There’s a reason for this: in fact, one should always consider the quality of job opportunities, rather than just thinking in black and white. And there is big concern in Germany and in Europe for the German mini-jobs: that is less unemployment but still widespread insecurity.

Trends are good right now and economy is in recovery, but years of crisis carried out a dramatic effect: the young now are expected to face more difficulties to find a job than before, only because of their own age.

How global unemployment has changed after the 2008 crisis

Data source:


World hasn’t run the same way in the past years. Although the most developed countries soffered the consequences of the financial crisis, a large part of the developing world made progress in terms of GDP and job opportunities.

This infographic does not display the best countries where to look for a job: it shows which countries did have the best results in terms of unemployment percentage, in the period 2008-2014; and which the worst. In blue, you can see states where the % of unemployment rate got better; in red, where it got worse. Another important note: states with the same percentage not necessarily have the same unemployment rate. To be clear: UK (+1.8% in these 6 years) has a 7.4% as unemployment rate. Ukraine improved (-0.7%) but it’s still at 7.6%. We are looking at trends, rather than steady data.

These trends don’t mean that blue countries necessarily improved their working conditions or got higher salaries. However, they show how dozens million people found a job, in the period that the Western world use to call ‘collapse‘ or ‘depression’. The best results can be found in India (-4.2% in terms of unemployment), Brazil (-3.3%) and not surprisingly Germany (-3.1%). USA had a rising unemployment after 2008, but now America reduced its percentage loss to 1.7%

As you can see, some states on the map are omitted: it’s the case for countries in war in the past years or right now (Afghanistan, Syria, Libya) or for countries with insufficient data for a comparative analysis (the greatest part of Africa).

Perhaps, the most interesting considerations may be made regarding Europe:


Germany is the extraordinary exception in the old continent, with 3 percentage points gained in terms of unemployment since 2008. UK and Scandinavia are OK, but Southern Europe had a job loss explosion: 6 points in Italy, 17,5 points in Spain, 19,5 in Greece. Not even France is at the 2008 level.

However, if you look at another part of the globe, you can find a completely different situation:


There is no Southern American country where unemployment got worse: from Chile to Venezuela, in every state the unemployment percentage changed for the best. Once more, this does not mean that Argentina, for instance, has an outstanding economic performance.

And what about Asia?


Pretty blue, again. China had no variation between early 2008 and now (obviously data fluctuate during the time range). Better results are signed by India, but also by Indonesia, Turkey and a large part of the former Soviet Union.

So yes, it’s been for sure a hard time for USA and Europe, but world has changed differently in other areas and regions. In some cases for the best.

Addition: the USA map state by state