European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Overview of labour market developments


Uneven recovery

Employment has continued to grow in the EU (Figure 2.1). In 2018q2, the employment rate was at an all-time high of 68.6%. This is a considerable improvement compared to the peak of the crisis (64.1% in 2013) and also surpasses the pre-crisis level of 65.9%. For the male population, however, the past 10 years were very much a lost decade, with the employment rate only moving from 72.9% in 2008 to 73.8% in 2018. Female employment, on the other hand, stagnated during the crisis but then increased by 4.6 pp between 2013 and 2018. There was a less impressive increase in youth employment (15-24), which was still below pre-crisis levels in 2018, at 35.1%. Among older workers (55-64) the employment rate rose from 45.6% in 2008 to 58.6% in 2018, which can in part be attributed to a reduced access to early retirement schemes and a postponement of the retiremen tage. Workers with the lowest educational attainment levels persistently show low participation rates in the labour market, with their employment rate just above 46% in 2018, still below the pre-crisis level of 47.9%.

More atypical jobs

The part-time employment rate rose to 19.3% in the EU28 in 2018, from 17.6% in 2008 (Figure 2.1). Part-time work is more prevalent among women, but the increase in the rate slowed down, reaching 31.5% in 2018, while it continued for men, rising to 8.9% in 2018. The temporary employment rate was also higher among women (14.9%) than men(13.8%) in 2018. The self-employment rate suffered a decline over the past five years, dropping from 14.5% in 2013 to 13.6% in 2018. Only a minority of self-employed workers are employers, while the majority consists of own-account workers. Their share in total employment was 9.7% in 2018.

Disaggregation of the net job growth into forms of employment (Figure 2.2) shows to what extent non-standard work has overtaken standard employment. Part-time jobs increased the most in relative terms, by nearly 13% since 2008, followed by temporary employment, which grew by nearly 5% in the same period. Own-account workers, however, increased by only 1%. Meanwhile, the overall number of jobs in the EU28 increased by 2.4% in the past decade.

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