June 1, 2013
Unemployment in the euro zone hit a two-year high in April.
According to the latest figures of Europe’s Eurostat statistical agency
published on Friday, the unemployment rate rose from 12.1 percent in
March to 12.2 percent last month. Fully 24.4 percent of young workers
have no job.
The highest jobless rates are found in the southern countries, which
have plunged into deep recessions since 2008. At the top of the list is
Greece, with an unemployment rate of 27.0 percent, an estimated economic
contraction of 4.2 percent this year. A stunning 62.5 percent of youth
are out of work.
Second is Spain with 26.8 percent jobless and 56.4 percent
joblessness among youth. Rates in Portugal (17.8 percent unemployment
overall, 42.5 percent for youth), Cyprus (15.6 and 32.7 percent), and
Italy (12.0 and 40.5 percent) are likewise extremely high.
But also in Sweden, which saw mass rioting by suburban youth in
recent weeks, nearly a quarter of workers under 25 years old are
unemployed. In Germany the jobless rate is relatively low, at 5.4
percent, though Germany’s national statistical agency by contrast
estimates the figure at 6.8 percent.
In France 11 percent of the working population has no job, while at
least 26.5 percent of youth are unemployed. This number has increased
constantly for 24 months. France’s economy is confronted with an
expected recession of 0.1 percent this year.
These official Eurostat figures do not include all the people who
actually do not have jobs in Europe. They downplay the total number of
jobless, as the long-term unemployed, who no longer look for a job every
single week, are not counted at all.
Accurate figures measuring the total number of jobless workers would therefore be even higher.
This increase in unemployment and the deep recession in many
countries are the result of brutal austerity measures imposed by the
European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Countries like
Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy have slashed their budgets over the
last five years, dismissed hundreds of thousands of public workers, and
drastically cut the wages of their remaining employees.