EU labour market slack drops slightly to 13.9%, employment up, absences from work at pre-COVID levels

In the third quarter of 2020, 188.0 million persons in the EU were employed, the EU seasonally adjusted employment rate for people aged 20-64 stood at 72.4%, up by 0.3 pp from 72.1% in the second quarter 2020 and 14.8 million persons were unemployed, according to data released today by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Cyprus experienced one the largest recovery rates (24.5%) of hours worked between the second quarter 2020 and the third quarter 2020, ranking 5th in the EU.

According to Eurostat, the EU seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.3%, up from 6.7% in the second quarter 2020 and at the same time, seasonally adjusted total labour market slack in the EU, consisting in unmet need for work, amounted to 29.4 million persons, which represented 13.9% of the extended labour force in the third quarter 2020, slightly down from 14.1% in the second quarter 2020.

Overall labour market slack increased in 14 EU Member States in the third quarter 2020 compared with the second quarter 2020, remained stable in 5, and decreased in 8 Member States.

The highest increases were reported in Estonia (+1.2 pp), France, Lithuania and Portugal (all +0.9 pp), and the highest decreases in Italy (-1.7 pp), Austria (-0.9 pp), Ireland, Hungary and Bulgaria (all -0.8 pp).

Employment rose in 18 countries, remained stable in 5 Member States, and fell in Lithuania (-0.7 pp), Cyprus (-0.5 pp), Latvia and Sweden (both -0.1 pp). The highest increases in employment were recorded in Austria (+1.1 pp), Bulgaria (+0.9 pp) and Greece (+0.8 pp).

In the third quarter 2020, a total of 17.0 million persons were absent from work in the EU, a drop of more than 50% (18.0 million) compared with the second quarter 2020. This return to pre-COVID levels is due to a sharp decrease in temporary lay-offs, while absences due to holidays dropped to a record low. At the same time, absences due to other reasons (i.e. absences not due to lay-off, holiday or illness), fell to pre-COVID levels between the two quarters.

Compared with the second quarter 2020, all Member States for which data are available experienced a drop in overall absences from work in the third quarter 2020. The largest drops were registered in Cyprus (-21.0 pp), Greece (-18.8 pp) and Slovakia (-18.6 pp). The highest rates of absences were observed in Sweden (16.1%), France (14.4%) and Austria (12.6%).

Total actual hours worked recovered in the EU between the second quarter 2020 and the third quarter 2020, but have failed to return to pre-COVID levels.

The levels of total actual hours worked are influenced by the total number of persons working, as well as the number of hours worked by each of these persons.

Between the second and the third quarter 2020, total actual hours worked have recovered for women more than for men, increasing to 105 index points for women and to 95 index points for men. This is an increase of 16.0% over the quarter for women, and of 15.3% for men.

Compared with the third quarter 2019, however, total actual hours worked dropped for both women and men, by 2.1% and 2.6% respectively. Compared with the third quarter 2019, however, total actual hours worked dropped for both women and men, by 2.1% and 2.6% respectively.

All Member States for which data are available experienced a recovery in total actual hours worked between the second quarter 2020 and the third quarter 2020, with the exception of Sweden (-0.3%).

The highest increases were observed in Greece (+33.4%), Italy (+28.3%), Spain (+27.8%), Portugal (+27.3%) and Cyprus (+24.5%). Despite these large quarter-over-quarter increases, total actual hours worked failed to return to levels observed in the third quarter of 2019.

Source: Cyprus News Agency