Employment rate in active population, 2010


Observations for policy

The Europe 2020 employment target is not an easy task, especially in a period of financial crisis. The reduction of jobs is severe in many countries and regions, and unemployment is increasingly becoming worrying, also because of structural factors and problems associated with unskilled workforce.


The national level is important to explain the employment pattern in the sense that regions within a country normally score similarly. Overall it seems that there is no clear correlation between rural and urban regions and employment rates.

Policy context

Europe 2020 is the growth strategy of the European Union. The focus is on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These three mutually reinforcing priorities shall help to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. At EU level, and within each Member State, concrete objectives, targets, and flagship initiatives have been defined to boost growth and jobs.

Employment is intended to raise the European economy, reduce poverty and exclusion, but also to address the cost of ageing through the pension system is several countries. The Europe 2020 headline target for employment is 75 per cent of the 20-64 year old age group in 2020. This is an ambitious target considering that the employment rate was nearly 69 per cent in 2011.

Map interpretation

The map on the share of employment people aged 20-64 shows a considerable territorial variation. Several regions have employment rates higher than Europe 2020 targets. This is the case for Sweden, Norway and Switzerland, but also for the majority of regions in Austria, Denmark, Finland or the Netherlands.

Regions with employment rates above 75 per cent are mostly located in Northern Europe. In contrast, Eastern and Southern Europe show rather low employment rates. In Italy or Spain, for instance, the regional disparities are rather striking with employment rates below 55 per cent.

Concepts and methods

The employment rate is calculated by dividing the number of persons aged 20 to 64 in employment by the total population of the same age group. The indicator is based on the EU Labour Force Survey, and covers the entire population living in private households but excludes those is collective households such as boarding houses, halls of residence and hospitals.