Unemployment in EU remains historically low, Belgium above average

Unemployment in EU remains historically low, Belgium above average
Man looking at job advertisements. Credit: Belga

Despite increasing pressures on the bloc's economy, the unemployment rate both in the eurozone and in the European Union remains steady at a record-low level.

Unemployment in the eurozone (19 countries) remained steady at 6.6% of the workforce last month, while in the 27 countries of the EU, it sat at 6%, according to the latest update from the EU's statistics office, Eurostat, published on Monday. The rates were down by 1.3% and 1.2% compared to the same month last year.

"Eurostat said the number of people without jobs in the 19 countries sharing the euro was 10.925 million in June, compared to 10.900 million in May and 12.882 million a year earlier," the latest report regarding unemployment read.

In both areas, the rate is currently at a record-low level. The lowest levels were recorded in Czechia (2.4%), followed by Germany (2.8% of the workforce), while the highest was recorded in Spain (12.6%) and Greece (12.3%). In Belgium, the unemployment rate was 5.5% in June 2022, down by 6.2% during the same month last year.

The jobless rate among men in the EU was 5.7%, and 6.2% in the eurozone, while this rate sat at 6.4% for women in the EU, and 7% in the euro area, all stable compared to last month.

Meanwhile, some 2.546 million young persons (under the age of 25) were unemployed in the EU, of whom 2.1 million were in the euro area. Overall, the unemployment rate in both the EU and eurozone increased slightly since May, however compared with June 2021, youth unemployment decreased by 527,000 in the EU and by 450,000 in the eurozone.

Fears of recession increasing

Despite a glimpse of hope being created by these figures, other data regarding the eurozone manufacturing sector, which has fallen into contraction, alongside the euro slumping, have further added to fears that the bloc's economy is heading towards recession.

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According to S&P Global’s poll of purchasing managers (PMI) for July, the decline in output by factories in the zone dropped to the lowest rate since May 2020, during the initial wave of tough Covid-19 lockdowns, largely driven by a drop in orders.

"Eurozone manufacturing is sinking into an increasingly steep downturn, adding to the region’s recession risks," Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence said.

"New orders are already falling at a pace which, excluding pandemic lockdown months, is the sharpest since the debt crisis in 2012, with worse likely to come," he added. If a recession occurs, this is likely to increase the unemployment rate.

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