Unemployment rates differ very substantially between the countries of the European Union (EU). In the Netherlands unemployment is low compared with other countries in Europe; certainly when compared with Spain, where more than a quarter of the labour force are unemployed. Youth unemployment, in particular, is very high; in Greece and Spain, more than fifty percent of young people are out of work.
Dutch unemployment second lowest in EU
The EU country with the lowest unemployment according to the international definition is Austria, with 4.5 percent, followed by the Netherlands with a rate of 5.3 percent. The highest rate of unemployment in the EU is found in Spain, where a quarter of the labour force is unemployed.
Unemployment, seasonally adjusted, July 2012
Youth hit hard by current crisis
People in the age group 15 to 24 years have been particularly hit by the crisis. In Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and Spain, unemployment rates in this age group rose dramatically. In Spain and Greece just over half the population aged from 15 to 24 are now out of a job. In an opposite trend, youth unemployment fell in a number of EU countries. In Lithuania it even dropped by 7 percent points, from 32 to 25 percent. The EU countries with lowest youth unemployment rates are Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, where they range from 8 to just over 9 percent.
Youth unemployment, seasonally adjusted, July 2012
Unemployment in a historical perspective
If we place the present unemployment rate of the Netherlands in a historical perspective, it is higher than it was before the crisis. But in 2004 and 2005, too, unemployment in the Netherlands was between 5 and 6 percent. Since 2004 Dutch unemployment has always been well under the European average. While the European average began to rise in 2008, in the Netherlands it only started to increase in 2009. The number of unemployed in the EU is now at its highest level since 2000.
Unemployment, seasonally adjusted, January 2004 - July 2012
Dyon den Haan