Positive labour market, social trends continue
Employment in the EU has never been so high since 2013
22 July, 2017
Fewer people are queueing in front of the employment offices across the EU.
The Commission published last Monday the 2017 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review, which confirms positive labour market and social trends and continued economic growth, the EU press service reported. With over 234 million people having a job, employment has never been as high as today in the EU and unemployment is at its lowest level since December 2008. Since 2013, 10 million jobs have been created in the EU.
But looking beyond the overall social and economic progress, evidence shows that there is a particularly heavy burden on younger generations: they tend to have more difficulties in finding a job and are more often in non-standard and precarious forms of employment including temporary contracts, which may lower their social protection coverage. They are also likely to receive lower pensions, relative to wages.
“This annual review shows once again that we are firmly on the path towards more jobs and growth. However, today's young and their children may end up worse off than their parents. This is not what we want. Swift action is needed. With the European Pillar of Social Rights we want to preserve and improve our social standards and living conditions for future generations,” Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen commented.
The report shows that despite steady improvements in living standards in the EU, young people do not equally benefit from this positive evolution compared to the older generations. Moreover, younger age groups' share in income from work has decreased over time. Such challenges are affecting younger people's household decisions, including having children and buying a house. This may in turn have negative consequences on fertility rates and, consequently, on the sustainability of pension systems and growth.
In addition, the working age population is expected to decline by 0.3% every year until 2060. This means that a smaller work force will need to ensure we keep on the current growth path. It also means that at the same time, a smaller number of contributors will pay into pension systems – often with lower and/or irregular contributions as they will not be corresponding to full-time and/or standard work- while more pensioners will depend on them. Today's young workers and future generations therefore seem to face a double burden stemming from demographic change and the need to ensure pension systems' sustainability.
Policy makers can prepare for and mitigate these evolutions in several ways. First of all, we need to make full use of our human potential on the labour market, by activating and equipping with the right skills all generation groups and making sure there is a proportionate link between the duration of working lives and life expectancy. Lastly, social partners can make a major contribution to bridging the gap between younger and older workers to promote a fairer labour market for both, by promoting lifelong learning, the provision of social protection benefits and implementation of employment protection legislation.