(Dublin, Ireland): Employment in Europe is on a slow growth trajectory after a long period of job loss and economic stagnation but quality of life has slipped for many Europeans, and poverty is a threat for millions. This is according to the Eurofound yearbook 2015: Living and working in Europe, which presents an annual snapshot of economic and social developments, and how they affect the lives of Europeans across 28 Member States.
Eurofound examined new sources of employment, new paths to employment and emerging new forms of employment that offer flexibility to enable workers to enter the labour market – themes of major interest as Europe seeks to regain the employment targets set in the Europe 2020 strategy for growth. But as employment rises, the Agency’s research shows that labour markets have become more polarised between high-skilled, high-paying jobs and low-skilled, low-paying jobs. A demand for flexible employment in the growing service sector, labour market deregulation and the working time choices of the growing numbers of female and older workers has given rise to more and atypical employment.
And while challenges remain in specific occupations - largely in the areas of pay and skills – Eurofound has found that working conditions have, in fact, remained stable across the board. Indeed, there have been some clear improvements in places - there has been a clear reduction in exposure to some workplace risks and fewer workers are working very long hours. Furthermore, rising equality between women and men at work is a good news story, albeit still within a highly segregated labour market and with different experiences across dimensions and occupations.
At the same despite good development towards greater wage convergence in the years before the crisis, with marked growth particularly in some of the central and eastern European countries, wage inequalities have since begun to take hold again across Member States, with all the accompanying implications for worker mobility that will entail.
In this context, and as tensions rise in relation to migrant flows across the EU, Eurofound revealed that, in fact, overall, mobile workers from the central and east European EU10 take up benefits and use services to a lesser extent on the whole than the native population in the ‘richer’ host EU countries. And where they do access unemployment and other work-related benefits more than the host country workers, this is largely attributed to the fact that they are simply in more vulnerable job situations in any economic downturn.
Download the Eurofound yearbook 2015: Living and working in Europe here.
Eurofound celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding in 2015. In 1975, the then European Community set up the Agency, charging it with the task of contributing to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe. The social policy agenda and priorities may have shifted over those 40 years, but Eurofound’s mission throughout has been constant: to support policymakers to develop the best solutions for the social and work-related challenges faced by the European Union.
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide knowledge in the area of social and work-related policies. Eurofound was established in 1975 by Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1365/75.