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European (un)employment in times of Corona: hard won gains down the drains

Summary:
. Eurostat has recently published new data on EU unemployment. It’s going down again. Which seems good. But there is more to this than meets the eye. To be counted as ‘unemployed’ one has to have no ‘gainful employment’ and to be actively seeking for a job. People who give up seeking are not counted as unemployed. Neither are people leaving the labor market. And people are giving up seeking as well as leaving the labor market… Eurostat has engineered a ‘dashboard’ which maps the economic and some of the demographic and mental consequences of the Corona crisis and Corona policies, including data on labor flows. Good. Even when its name, the ‘recovery dashboard‘, sounds a little optimistic. When we look at these flows, it turns out that it has become much harder for the

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.European (un)employment in times of Corona: hard won gains down the drains

Eurostat has recently published new data on EU unemployment. It’s going down again. Which seems good. But there is more to this than meets the eye. To be counted as ‘unemployed’ one has to have no ‘gainful employment’ and to be actively seeking for a job. People who give up seeking are not counted as unemployed. Neither are people leaving the labor market. And people are giving up seeking as well as leaving the labor market…

Eurostat has engineered a ‘dashboard’ which maps the economic and some of the demographic and mental consequences of the Corona crisis and Corona policies, including data on labor flows. Good. Even when its name, the ‘recovery dashboard‘, sounds a little optimistic. When we look at these flows, it turns out that it has become much harder for the unemployed to find a job, that a larger number of unemployed leave the labor market while the number of employed leaving the labor market also increased. People are just giving up.

European (un)employment in times of Corona: hard won gains down the drains

We can also look at ‘broad unemployment, i.e. people available but not seeking as well as underemployed part time workers (see below). Especially the ‘available but not seeking’ group is increasing rapidly, even when ‘headline unemployment’ isn’t. There are differences between countries. Especially tourism dependent countries are hit very hard. But in a sense that doesn’t matter too much. EU countries haven’t been able to contain Corona, despite severe lockdowns leading to large and increasing economic, mental and social damage. Vaccination is not proceeding fast enough to counter this in the next 100 days. Next to vaccination, there are also other technological solutions possible: mass use of UVC lamps, air purifiers and much more ventilation. Hey, having a UVC led-lamp somewhere is not more complicated than having a normal lamp! Every class room and every gin joint should have these. Alas, instead of doing such thing we choose to let people -do nothing. Which doesn’t work good enough. And which leads to large economic and social damage, as the labor market statistics show. Open those windows, welcome the cold!

European (un)employment in times of Corona: hard won gains down the drains

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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