Manufacturing and construction sustain massive jobs losses, but employment is growing in health care, social work and education

Key points:

  • In the European Union, employment dropped by about 5.3 million people (-2.4%) between 2008 and 2010. The decrease was higher in 2008-2009 (-3.9 million) than in 2009-2010 (-1.4 million).
  • The crisis has particularly affected manufacturing sector employment (down 3.9 million, or 10.4%) and construction (about 2 million fewer employed, or a 10.7% drop). The trade sector lost about 1 million employed and the transport and storage sector an additional half a million (3.4% and 4.7% decreases respectively). Nevertheless, those sectors still account for large shares of overall European employment.
  • Slight negative trends have also been registered in other sectors such as public administration, primary sector, information and communication, finance and insurance or other service activities. In these sectors, employment dropped by between -0.9% and-2.2% corresponding to smaller absolute decreases (ranging from 70,000 to 130,000 jobs).
  • Despite the crisis, employment in activities related to human health and social work increased by about 1 million, or 4.5%. The education sector also added 500,000 jobs, a 3.1% increase.
  • Other sectors also resisted the crisis. They include administration and support, professional, scientific and technical activities, accommodation and food services and electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply, which all registered employment growth of between 100,000 and 300,000. Employment remained stable in arts and entertainment, household activities, real estate as well as water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation.


The indicator presented here is the difference between employment levels in 2010 and in 2008. The chart only considers absolute differences. Key points complement this information with information on percentage change. The indicator is broken down by economic sector of activity (Nace Rev.2 classification). Employment refers to employed persons aged 15-64 in annual averages. Data originate from the European Labour Force Survey and are subject to its methodology.

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