The Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, headed by the Hungarian Andor László, yesterday published a report on the situation of employment and social protection systems in the European Union. The report, rich in charts and statistics, builds on the first Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) Review (2011).
The nearly 500-page long report can be downloaded here.
After five years of economic crisis and the return of a recession in 2012, unemployment is hitting new peaks not seen for almost twenty years, household incomes have declined and the risk of poverty or exclusion is on the rise, especially in Member States in Southern and Eastern Europe. A new divide is emerging between countries that seem trapped in a downward spiral of falling output, fast rising unemployment and eroding disposable incomes and those that have so far shown good or at least some resilience. The latter, including the Nordic countries, tend to have better-functioning labour markets and more robust welfare systems.
A few findings of the ESDE Review concerning (also) Sweden:
– The countries with the lowest rate of long-term unemployment (less than 2 %) in 2011 were Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark) and Cyprus [p. 23].
– The lowest total of inactivity rate and unemployment ratio for men was seen in the Netherlands (20.3 %), and for women in Sweden (28.2 %), while the highest rates were noted in Bulgaria and Lithuania for men (both 39.1 %) and in Malta for women (59 %) [p. 25].
– In Sweden, although the target employment rate of 80 % was reached in 2011, after a rise of 1.3 percentage points compared to 2010, employment should increase by 0.3 % per year until 2020, in order to compensate for the forecast population growth. And this turns out to be a minimum, if demographic projections were to be confirmed and given the objective of the Swedish government to
achieve an employment rate of ‘well over 80 %’ by the end of the decade [pp. 46-47].
– Female employment rates in the 55-64 age group ranged from just 13.8 in Malta to 68.9 in Sweden.
For a comment on the report see Nikolaj Nielsen’s article on EU Observer.