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EU jobless rate dropped to 6.2% in February

The EU's unemployment rate hasn't been this low since the Great Recession of 2008.

(CN) — Unemployment across the European Union continued to decline in February, hitting a 14-year low of 6.2%, the EU statistics agency Eurostat reported Thursday.

Compared with February 2021, unemployment has declined 1.3% across the 27-state bloc. During the peak of 2020 lockdowns to control the spread of Covid-19, the jobless rate hit just over 7.5%. Otherwise, unemployment has been generally decreasing across member states since soaring over 11.5% in 2012.

“The unemployment rate is an important indicator with both social and economic dimensions. Rising unemployment results in a loss of income for individuals, increased pressure with respect to government spending on social benefits and a reduction in tax revenue,” Eurostat said in a statement. “From an economic perspective, unemployment may be viewed as unused labor capacity.”

An estimated 13.3 million people were out of work across the EU last month, 84% concentrated in the 19 countries that use the euro as currency.

At 12.6%, Spain recorded the highest unemployment rate in February, followed by Greece at 11.9%. With only 2.4% of its workforce unemployed, Czechia reported the lowest rate in the EU, followed by Germany, Malta and Poland, all below 3.1%.

Comparatively, Eurostat cites a U.S. unemployment rate of 3.8%.

People between the ages of 15 and 25 — whom the EU considers "youths" — made up nearly 20% of unemployed persons in February. The EU’s current youth unemployment rate of 14% is also at a 14-year low, compared to near 19% at the peak of the pandemic closures in 2020. In 2012, the youth unemployment rate reached beyond 25%.

Youth unemployment only reflects joblessness among youth in the workforce, not among all people in the age group, many of whom are students.

Unemployment among Spanish youth hit 29.8% last month, followed by Italy, 24.2% and Sweden, 22.4%. The lowest rates of youth unemployment were recorded in Estonia, 5.7%, followed by Austria, 7.3, and Czechia, 7.8%.

While all member states tracked decreases in youth unemployment between 2019 and 2020, only 40% had fully recovered toward the end of 2021. To bring awareness to the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on youth and to promote professional development opportunities, the EU named 2022 “the European Year of Youth.”

Using the International Labor Organization’s guidelines, Eurostat defined unemployment as jobless people who have been actively looking for work over the last month and able to start working again within two weeks.

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