The latest European unemployment numbers were released Wednesday, and they show more unemployed youths in November than the previous year overall, largely due to growing numbers of under-25 unemployed in the region’s worst-hit economies.
Eleven out of the 20 European countries that submitted youth jobless figures had rates above 20 percent as of November, while four of them topped 33 percent. Italy and Spain have the highest rates of jobless young people at 41.6 percent and 57.7 percent respectively. Greece, site of the worst economic collapse, was notably absent from the report.
Many of these countries have managed to reverse the trend of growing joblessness, but not enough to bring down their overall rates of unemployment. In the euro zone states, the overall jobless rate stood at 12.1 percent, up from 11.8 percent the previous year. Among all the European Union states unemployment ticked up slightly to 10.9 percent.
Youth unemployment increased to 23.6 percent in November from 23.4 percent the previous year for the European Union’s 28 member states. For the euro zone’s 18 member states (including Latvia, which joined the currency bloc on Jan. 1), the rate increased to 24.3 percent from 23.9 percent.
Youth unemployment, defined as jobless working-age people under the age of 25, is of particular concern because it can take much longer for younger inexperienced workers to re-enter the workforce and they end up with fewer economically active years in which to pay income taxes to support social services. There is also a correlation between high rates of unemployment among youths and social unrest.
And the trend is moving in the wrong direction for the region’s worst-hit countries. Spain’s youth unemployment jumped nearly three percentage points from November 2012 to last November, while Italy’s leaped four percentage points, from 37.6 percent to 41.6 percent.
On the bright side, half of the 20 countries reporting youth unemployment figures to Eurostat for November managed to bring down their rates over the previous 12 months, most notably Portugal, which dropped its youth jobless rate from 38.7 percent to 36.8 percent, and Ireland, which reeled its figure back from 29 percent to 24.8 percent.
By comparison, the U.S. youth unemployment rate is hovering around 15 percent. In both cases, unemployment figures are based on the number of people drawing unemployment benefits. People who do not draw unemployment benefits aren’t counted.