Young people in particular lose their jobs

LB – 07/2022

The European Commission's latest report shows that the labour market situation and the social situation of young people are more affected by the pandemic compared to the general population and are recovering more slowly. The annual Employment and Social Situation in Europe Report is an important instrument of the European Commission in matters of employment and social affairs. It contains current economic analyses as well as related proposals for political action.

Results of the report

The latest Employment and Social Situation Report in Europe shows that young people suffer the most from job losses as a result of the poor economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This trend also regressed more slowly among them. Possible explanations are linked to their high share of fixed-term contracts and difficulties in finding a first job after leaving school, university, or training. The new report helps in framing employment and social policies to make young people economically independent, especially as the socio-economic situation continues to deteriorate as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Specifically, the report shows:

  • employment-related recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was uneven. Young people (under 30) still have problems finding a job and one that matches their skills and likings. While youth unemployment declined in 2021, especially towards the end of the year, it remained one percentage point higher than before the crisis (2019). Of those in employment, almost one in two young people (45.9 per cent) had a temporary contract – compared to one in ten across all workers (10.2 per cent).


  • On average, young people are more likely to face a difficult social and financial situation. Even before the pandemic, the income of young people was more volatile than that of older people. Households of young people were more often affected by poverty, although there are clear differences within the EU, and youth faced problems covering their fixed costs such as rent.


  • These difficulties of young people depend on their level of education and socio-economic background. Those with secondary education are 19 percentage points less likely than those with lower levels of education to be unable to enter the labour market or a training programme. This risk is 28 percentage points lower for those with tertiary education. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are even less likely to find their way into working life or into a training programme.


  • Gender leads to further inequalities among young people. The economic situation of young women is worse than that of young men: On average, young women in the EU earn 7.2 per cent less than their male counterparts. This gap widens with age. Only a small part of this pay gap – 0.5 percentage points – at EU level is due to educational qualification, occupational choice, work experience or the form of the employment contract.

Employment and social policy measures for young people

The report's analyses show how the challenges faced by young people can be tackled. In particular, employment and social policy measures should:

  • enhance the integration of young people into the labour market,


  • enable young people to acquire skills,


  • promote labour mobility, a building block for a successful and crisis-proof working life,


  • reduce risks for young people such as unemployment, illness, poverty or debt,


  • support young people in building wealth and property.

The EU already supports young citizens with various programmes, e.g. via the Youth Guarantee with its Employment Initiative for Youth in regions with high youth unemployment and with the current initiative ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve) for disadvantaged young people. In 2023, the European Commission intends to review the Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships, in particular with regard to working conditions. A high-level group of experts is currently examining how young people can also be provided with better social security. The results should be available early next year.