• Europe’s youth struggle as unemployment set for record: OECD

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    YOUNG people in many European countries will continue to struggle for jobs as unemployment in the eurozone is set to hit a record 12.3 percent in 2014, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Tuesday.

    The poor and low-skilled sections of the workforce are also in the front line of unemployment.

    In its annual Employment Outlook, OECD also expressed concern over the strains on social welfare of “persistently high levels of unemployment.”

    “While there have been some encouraging signs of a recovery in employment growth in the United States, this has been offset by the return of recession in the euro zone,” the report said, adding youth were the hardest hit.

    The organization pointed to widening disparities between countries in the zone, with jobless rates in Germany set to fall under 5.0 percent by end 2014 while they will climb to around 28.0 percent in Spain and Greece.

    Further afield, unemployment was set to drop in Canada and the United States, it added.

    The OECD is a research and policy body for 34 advanced and emerging democracies.

    “Across the OECD, more than 48 million persons are unemployed, almost 16 million more than at the start of the crisis,” it said in its report, referring to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007.

    Young people are and will continue to be particularly hard hit in many European countries, the report said, with youth jobless rates currently exceeding 60 percent in Greece, 55 percent in Spain and around 40 percent in Italy and Portugal.

    Job and earnings losses have also been concentrated in low-skilled, low-income households more than in those with higher skills and incomes.

    People on insecure, short-term contracts were often the first to be fired as the crisis hit and have since struggled to find a new job, the report said.

    “Concerns are growing in many countries about the strains that persistently high levels of unemployment are placing on the social fabric.

    “Governments are facing the challenge of ‘doing more with less’,” it said, pointing to increasing social welfare needs just as fiscal resources required to meet those demands are shrinking.

    The OECD stressed that income support measures—particularly for the most vulnerable such as the long-term unemployed—must not be abandoned as they are “essential for cushioning the damaging effects of the crisis.”

    “They also help to sustain demand for goods and services which, in turn, contributes to growth and future employment gains.”

    The report outlined various measures needed to help and encourage the unemployed to find jobs, particularly young people, such as making sure adequate resources are devoted to assisting with job hunting and training.

    “Youth need to be actively supported to avoid long-term ‘scarring’ effects as a result of prolonged unemployment and low-income spells early on in their careers,” it said.

    By contrast, older workers have fared better since the onset of the crisis, partly because they retire later for reasons such as better health, the closure of access to early retirement schemes and financial pressures, it added.

    But evidence suggests this had not been at the expense of the young, the report stressed. AFP

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