The true EU unemployment rate may have soared to 21.9%

ILO labour statuses and new supplementary indicators, EU-28, age 15-74, 2013. Eurostat graph.

ILO labour statuses and new supplementary indicators, EU-28, age 15-74, 2013. Eurostat graph.

On top of the 26.2 million of the unemployed, averaging at 12% of EU’s working age population, there is another 10 million of underemployed par-timers who want to work more but they don’t find employment, plus 11.5 million more of working age persons who are available to work but not seeking (9.3 million) or seeking but not available (2.2 million). All that means the unemployed or underemployed are 47.7 million people or 21.9% of working age population persons. This information comes from an article published yesterday by Eurostat, the European Union statistical service. The new estimates are based on the 2013 results of the European Labour Force Survey.

Coming to the EU’s youths, the data are almost catastrophic. Since 2008-9, when the EU financial crisis first broke out, 1000 young people every day join  the ranks of the unemployed, according to the European Economic and Social Committee. Only yesterday, the European Sting reported that according to the EESC the Brussels bureaucracy has turned the implementation and the funding of the Youth Guarantee Scheme into a real ‘Catch – 22’ situation.

The programs cannot be applied by all the member states because of the lack of funding, while the Scheme endowed with €6 billion of EU money cannot fund the programs unless there are realized. But they cannot be realized because the member states which need them badly are forbidden by the Commission from borrowing, to finance the implementation. From its part, the Commission states that Poland and Croatia have managed to implement some programs under the heading of the Youth Guarantee. But the Brussels bureaucrats forgot to say that those two countries are not under a troika program.

Alas for the young

The Youth Guarantee Scheme is a promise that all the under 25s of all the EU member states are being presented with a job, or a traineeship or an apprenticeship within four months after leaving the education system. Not one has yet received such an offer in the countries where one out of two youths under 25 are without a job. Spain has already drafted a number of programs under this heading, but it’s impossible to implement them because of lack of financing, while Greece with the notorious incapability of its public administration, is still trying to organise similar actions.

Quarterly supplementary indicators by Member State, 2013 (fourth quarter of the year). Eurostat table.

Quarterly supplementary indicators by Member State, 2013 (fourth quarter of the year). Eurostat table.

Coming back to the latest study by the Eurostat on the complex realities of the labour market, the EU’s statistical service has come up with new ideas about the real unemployment figures. The new categories of real unemployment are the “underemployed part-time workers, the jobless persons seeking a job but not immediately available for work and jobless persons available for work but not seeking it”.

New categories of unemployment
According to the researchers of Eurostat, those three groups do not fulfill the criteria of the International Labour Organization. The ILO is the United Nations agency dealing with labour issues. The Organisation recognizes as unemployed only the persons without work, actively seeking work, and being available for work. All those criteria have to be simultaneously met in order a person to be counted as unemployed. However, Eurostat insists that those three new categories, despite “not being captured through the unemployment rate, these groups still represent a form of unmet demand for employment”.

On top of that, the Eurostat statisticians stress that “While the underemployed part-time workers form already part of the labour force, persons seeking work but not immediately available and persons available to work but not seeking are outside the labour force, but could be seen and termed as a ‘potential additional labour force”.

The idea is very simply that part-timers looking for more work belong clearly to the unemployment side at least for the part of their daily, weekly, monthly or yearly idle time. As for those who look for work but are not available or are available but don’t look, their ‘abstention’ from the labour force may be attributed to a complete disenchantment about their chances to find a work. In any case, they constitute a part of the working age population and potentially they could undertake productive occupation.
All in all, whatever definition of unemployment is used to count the millions of people without a job, the truth remains that those persons are outside the productive apparatus completely or partially, but could be called in if given the right opportunities.

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