Euro area unemployment at 7.4%

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 July, 2020 at 2:55 pm by Andre Camilleri

In May 2020, a third month marked by COVID-19 containment measures in most Member States, the euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4%, up from 7.3% in April 2020. The EU unemployment rate was 6.7% in May 2020, up from 6.6% in April 2020. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Eurostat estimates that 14.366 million men and women in the EU, of whom 12.146 million in the euro area, were unemployed in May 2020. Compared with April 2020, the number of persons unemployed increased by 253 000 in the EU and by 159 000 in the euro area.

Youth unemployment

In May 2020, 2.815 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU, of whom 2.267 million were in the euro area. In May 2020, the youth unemployment rate was 15.7% in the EU and 16.0% in the euro area, up from 15.4% and 15.7% respectively in the previous month. Compared with April 2020, youth unemployment increased by 64 000 in the EU and by 42 000 in the euro area.

Unemployment by gender

In May 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 7.2% in the EU, up from 6.9% in April 2020. The unemployment rate for men was 6.4% in May 2020, stable compared with April 2020. In the euro area, the unemployment rate for women increased from 7.7% in April 2020 to 7.9% in May 2020 while it remained stable at 7.0% for men.

These estimates are based on the globally used International Labour Organisation standard definition of unemployment, which counts as unemployed people without a job who have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. The COVID-19 confinement measures applied since March 2020 have triggered a sharp increase in the number of claims for unemployment benefits across the EU. At the same time, a significant part of those who had registered in unemployment agencies were no longer actively looking for a job, e.g. limited by the confinement measures or no longer available for work, for instance, if they had to take care of their children during the lockdown. This leads to descrepancies in the number of registered unemployed and those measured as unemployed according to the ILO definition. 

To capture in full the unprecedented labour market situation triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, the data on unemployment will be complemented by additional indicators, e.g. on employment, underemployment and potential additional labour force participants, when the LFS quarterly data for 2020 are published.

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