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Unfair burden on the young: EU employment review

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Unfair burden on the young: EU employment review

Marianne Thyssen - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - An annual review of employment and social developments in Europe, published Monday, finds a particularly high burden, exacerbated by demographic ageing, being placed on younger generations.

The 2017 Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review confirms positive labour market and social trends and continued economic growth.

With over 234 million people having a job, employment has never been as high as today in the EU, while unemployment is at its lowest level since December 2008.

However, looking beyond the overall social and economic progress, the evidence is that a particularly high burden, exacerbated by demographic ageing, is placed on younger generations: they tend to have more difficulties in finding a job, says the report, are more often in non-standard and precarious forms of employment and are likely to receive lower pensions, relative to wages.

The 2017 ESDE review focuses on intergenerational fairness: "we need to make sure that all generations benefit from the current positive economic trends and that young people in Europe will have at least the same opportunities as their parents," says the review.

While the EU is on the path to more jobs and growth, "today's young and their children may end up worse off than their parents," said Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen: "This is not what we want. Swift action is needed. With the European Pillar of Social Rights we want to preserve and improve our social standards and living conditions for future generations."

The report shows that despite steady improvements in living standards in the EU, young people do not equally benefit from this positive evolution compared to the older generations. Moreover, younger age groups' share in income from work has decreased over time. Such challenges are affecting younger people's household decisions, including having children and buying a house. This may in turn have negative consequences on fertility rates and, consequently, on the sustainability of pension systems and growth.

In addition, the working age population is expected to decline by 0.3% every year until 2060. This means that a smaller work force will need to ensure we keep on the current growth path. It also means that at the same time, a smaller number of contributors will pay into pension systems – often with lower and/or irregular contributions as they will not be corresponding to full-time and/or standard work- while more pensioners will depend on them. Today's young workers and future generations therefore seem to face a double burden stemming from demographic change and the need to ensure pension systems' sustainability.

The annual Employment and Social Developments in Europe review reports on the latest employment and social trends, and reflects on upcoming challenges and possible policy responses. It is the European Commission's main report to provide evidence and analysis and to review trends and upcoming challenges on the labour market.

Commission memo: 2017 Review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe – Questions and Answers

Factsheet: 2017 Review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe – Key Figures

2017 Employment and Social Developments in Europe review


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