Unemployment in Europe, 2010


Observations for policy

Unemployment is a central issue expressing the present economic and financial crisis. Overall unemployment varies primarily from country to country. But there are also significant variations within countries.

Policy context

Growth and jobs are at the core of the policy debate as well as in a large majority of EU Member States. In order to tackle the economic crisis, governments decided on a framework document to encompass action on economic growth with the aim of re-launching investment and employment as well as making Europe more competitive globally. Future EU Cohesion Policy shall contribute to this aim by making employment a crucial dimension.

Main interpretation

The map shows unemployment rates in Europe in March 2010. At this moment, most of Europe’s regions have unemployment rates of over 6 per cent. Rates up to 10 per cent are common however there are regions where the rates are much higher.

Looking at the pattern, Europe has particular high unemployment zones in the east, south and west. The ‘U’ shape of highest unemployment areas runs from Sweden and Finland through the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, taking in the Eastern Germany (though with a lot of regional variation in Bulgaria and Romania), then through Greece and southern Italy (though avoiding Cyprus and Malta) and back north through Spain and Portugal, France, Wallonia and Ireland. Inside this ‘horseshoe’ are countries that have fared less badly so far.

Although unemployment seems to vary mainly between countries, there are some significant intra-country variations too. For instance, in Italy there is a clear North-South difference or in Romania and Bulgaria where considerable regional differences still persist.

Concepts and methods

The unemployment rates for Europe in 2010 are estimated on the basis of national sources. Regional values for 2007 have been adjusted to national values in 2010. Consequently intra-country variations reflect the pre-crisis situation.