With the latest unemployment figures from Eurostat, for November 2017, the Euro Area has passed a milestone: for the first time the unemployment rate, at 8.7%, is below the average of the “normal times” prior to the economic crisis. This provides a good occasion to evaluate the current state of the labour market, as far as unemployment rates are concerned, in the Euro Area and its member states. To what extent have the scars of the crisis healed? Where do the most serious challenges remain?
Figure 1 shows the labour market recovery from the double whammy of the global financial and then the Euro crisis: it begins in the spring of 2013, in the wake of the belated “whatever it takes” announcement by the European Central Bank. Unemployment fell from its peak of 12.1% and by January 2017 it was below its average for the entire history of the common currency to date (9.6%). By November the continued improvement had brought the figure down below the average recorded up to the crisis (8.8%). Over the last 12 months the unemployment rate has fallen at an average of almost 0.1 percentage point – around 130 000 persons – a month. [Read more…]