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Two surveys from different organisations, released within a week of each other, underline once again the seriousness of the employment position in the EU. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publication points to the low proportion of the working-age population actually in work in Europe. Lagging behind both the U.S.A. and Canada, and nearly nine percentage points behind Japan, the euro area does slightly worse than the EU as a whole. The gender breakdown shows a tiny gap of 0.3% between the figure for men and women in Sweden compared to a whopping nearly 40% in EU candidate Turkey. Youth employment presents an even worse picture with only 14% of Greeks aged between 15 and 24 having a job. Meanwhile the EU’s own statistics agency Eurostat has been investigating the other side of the coin: unemployment rates of 11.5% and 10.0% in the Euro-zone and EU respectively are
still much higher than the U.S.A.’s 5.8% although now gradually declining. Not surprisingly there are big variations between Member States with Austria and Germany leaving only about 5% of their citizens idle while Greece (25.7%) and Spain (23.9%) are at the other end of the league table. Altogether nearly 24.5 million men and women are unemployed in the EU. The rates for women and men are much more equal than those for employment probably indicating that fewer women actually register as part of the labour force. Youth unemployment is at its lowest in Germany (7.4%) and this time even Greece is outdone by the truly shocking figure from Spain: 53.5%. Taking both surveys together it seems clear that the EU as a whole has failed to bounce back from the economic crash, even as far as similar developed areas of the World, its own home-made austerity policy must surely be the culprit.