Unemployment risks creating new divide in Europe



THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Tuesday 8 January 2013

Last update 9 January 2013 12:54 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BRUSSELS: Record unemployment and fraying social welfare systems in southern Europe risk creating a new divide in the continent, the EU warned yesterday, when figures showed joblessness across the 17 EU countries that use the euro hit a new high.
Euro zone unemployment rose to 11.8 percent in November, the highest since the euro currency was founded in 1999, according to the statistical agency Eurostat. The rate was up from 11.7 percent in October and 10.6 percent a year earlier.
In the wider 27-nation European Union, the world's largest economic bloc with 500 million people, unemployment broke the 26 million mark for the first time.
But the trend is not uniform. Unemployment is increasing mainly in those countries, mostly in southern Europe, where market concerns over excessive public debt have pushed governments to make the toughest savings, pushing the economies into recession.
States have raised taxes and slashed spending — including by cutting wages and pensions, measures that hit the labor force in the pocket and reduce demand in the economy.
Laszlo Andor, the EU's Employment Commissioner, warned the uneven impact of the crisis could create a rift.
"A new divide is emerging between countries that seem trapped in a downward spiral of falling output, fast rising unemployment and eroding disposable incomes and those that have so far shown good or at least some resilience," said a statement from Andor's office.
Last year "has been another very bad year for Europe in terms of unemployment and the deteriorating social situation," said Andor. "It is unlikely that Europe will see much socio-economic improvement in 2013."
The single biggest increase in unemployment over the past year took place in Greece, where joblessness soared to 26 percent in September, up 7.1 percentage points over September 2011's 18.9 percent. The highest overall rate in the EU was in Spain, where 26.6 percent of the workforce was jobless in November, up 3.6 percentage points over last year.
By contrast, Austria posted the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, at 4.5 percent. The rate in Luxembourg was 5.1 percent, and the rate in Germany was 5.4 percent.
Beyond Europe, unemployment in the US has been edging down this year and was at 7.8 percent as of November. In Japan it was only 4.1 percent.
"It is clear that the economic implosion of several (EU) member states continues at a troubling pace," said Graeme Leach, chief economist at the London-based Institute of Directors. He said the stark statistics were "compounded by the political and human impact of terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy."
The problem of joblessness is made worse by the fact that southern EU nations are increasingly chipping away at their social safety system to make do.
"Most national welfare systems have lost much of their ability to protect household incomes against the effects of the crisis," said Andor.
The figures illustrate the daunting tasks confronting the European Union. While the threat of a collapse of the euro zone due to too much government debt may have receded, the national economies — many of which are in recession — will struggle to recover as long as joblessness continues to rise, creating poverty and fueling social discontent.
Beyond savings cuts, governments have also made reforms — particularly of labor practices and education — to promote employment. But they take time, both to enact and to feed through an economy.
As unemployment across the euro zone continues to rise, many analysts are concerned whether the political will to continue to cut budgets can be sustained.
"We expect the unemployment rate at the euro zone level to continue to rise from 11.8 percent in the latest figures to 12.5 percent by early 2014, as euro zone businesses and households remain wary, and governments continue to cut back," said Tom Rogers of Ernst & Young Eurozone Forecast.
One bright spot in yesterday's EU statistical releases were new figures showing economic sentiment in the euro zone had improved in December. The so-called economic sentiment indicator rose by 1.3 points to 87 as confidence improved among consumers and almost all business sectors.
Analysts said it was likely a result of improvements in financial markets, but warned that with unemployment still high, a recovery in the economy was months away.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education is planning to increase the role of its subsidiary committees in the region and governorates to address the issue of schools increasing the fees on one pretext or another.A source in the ministry has been quoted as s...
DAMMAM: All Saudi airports, particularly King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam, lack a tourism attraction strategy which requires a formal decision from the government, said Saeed Al-Qahtani, an investor in the tourism sector.He said: “In...
JEDDAH: Interpol is looking for two Saudis — a former Jeddah mayor and former president of a sports club — who have been convicted in cases related to the 2009 flash floods here.The ex-mayor was sentenced to seven years in prison while the sports off...
RIYADH: The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently discussed here the scope of cooperation with the Kingdom’s Public Education Evaluation Commission (PEEC) in the field of education.The delegation was headed...
RIYADH: Investors and proprietors of recruitment offices have blamed the Ministry of Labor for the rise in the number of illegal brokers, saying that some of the rules are actually counterproductive and promoting black market.The ministry has put a c...
DAMMAM: A period of 20 months will be granted to deliver residential apartments for beneficiaries in the Eastern Province, starting from the day of delivering land to developers, and not from the date of signing the contract with them, according to a...
ALKHOBAR: Bribery can be eliminated by applying the laws strictly and creating public awareness besides an active role by citizens, experts say.Abdulrahman Al-Zahian, a researcher in legal affairs and public policy, said: “The Saudi anti-bribery law...
JEDDAH: Zuhair Rahbeeni, a consultant at the Pediatric and Clinical Genetics Department of Medical Genetics at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, said that the criteria used for premarital health examinations fall short of proper st...
JEDDAH: The police in Jeddah found a runaway girl after 17 days. A news website reported that she had gone missing after she took a taxi on one of Jeddah's roads.The mother of the girl said that the police found the girl on Friday after 17 days. She...
JEDDAH: Since the launch of the Asir Initiative, “Asir … a major tourism destination all year round,” under the patronage of Asir Governor and Chairman of the Tourism Development Council Prince Faisal bin Khalid at the end of 2013, the region has man...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU), which is leading the vanguard in promoting and supporting scientific research in the Kingdom, will host the Saudi international conference on scientific publishing for 2015 to discuss issues and challenges surround...
RIYADH: The National Committee for Contractors (NCC) at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and representatives from the Ministry of Labor denied on Sunday delays in releasing SR2,400 in compensation to contractors once the criteria have been finaliz...
MAKKAH: Being at the front of the House of God and the peace and tranquility in the Grand Mosque are feelings that cannot be described, said Egyptian pilgrim Abdul Rahman Mustafa.The Umrah pilgrim appeared to be very happy and content. “Thank God, I...
DAMMAM: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman and Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif will jointly sponsor the 3rd Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions Forum (Saudicef), scheduled for Nov. 8...
RIYADH: Every year, Saudis prepare for Eid Al-Fitr festivities with great joy and excitement. For children it is both fun and new clothes, which parents buy for them.With ten days to go until Eid Al-Fitr, shoppers were making a beeline to malls and o...

Stay Connected

Facebook