Fall in EU unemployment negligible
Unemployment across the European Union fell by just 0.1 per cent to 9.5 per cent, or 23 million people, in the year to February 2011 – the latest figures released by Eurostat reveal.
The jobless rate rose in 12 of the EU's 27 member states, fell in 13 and remained stable in two compared with a year ago. Male unemployment fell 0.3 per cent to 9.5 per cent while female unemployment rose 0.1 per cent to 10.2 per cent in the same period. The number of under-25s out of work fell 0.5 per cent 20.4 per cent. Spain had the highest unemployment rate in February 2011, 20.5 per cent – more than a fifth of the work force – and the Netherlands the lowest, 4.3 per cent.
Eurostat also released its latest figures on demographic changes. They show that 32 million foreigners were living in EU member states in 2010. Of these, 20 million were from outside the EU while 12 million were from within the union. Almost 80 per cent of foreign citizens lived in Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
The fertility rate began to rise in 2003 after falling sharply during the previous 20 years. The highest rate in 2009 was in Ireland, at 2.07 children per woman – still below the replacement level of 2.1. The German fertility rate was among the lowest at 1.36 children per woman.
Meanwhile life expectancy rose in all member states over the last 50 years, with the biggest increases coming in Estonia and Slovenia. The French enjoy the highest life expectancy for women, 85.1 years. Swedish men live longest to on average 79.4.
The EU and the eurozone: out of work
The level of unemployment in Europe is a tragedy that deserves some sort of recognition of collective failure on the part of the authorities, writes our secret columnist in Brussels