EU policy aims to make the transition from education to employment for young people as successful as possible. This transition has consequences for progression through the labour market over the lifecycle. The youth unemployment rate reflects the difficulties young people can face in making the transition from school to work. While the indicator is usually covers those aged 15 to 24, the indicator below focuses on the 20 to 34 age group. The indicator excludes the age group 15 to 19, where active participation in the labour market is small (with many individuals being in education and training). 

The indicator is defined as the percentage of the active population (20 to 34 years old) who are unemployed: these are individuals without a job, actively looking for one, and readily available to start work. The active population is the population either employed or unemployed: it excludes the economically inactive (those not working and not looking for a job). 

Unemployment rate of 20- to 34-year-olds (%)

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Source: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat data, EU Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Key points

In 2020, the EU average unemployment rate for 20- to 34-year-olds was 10.4%. The highest rate was in Greece (25.0%), followed by Spain (22.9%), and Italy (16.7%). In contrast, Czechia (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.8%), Poland (5.1%), Malta (5.1%) and Germany (5.2%), had the lowest rates in 2018 (all below 6%). 

The EU average unemployment rate for 20- to 34-year-olds dropped from 14.0% in 2015 to 10.4% in 2020. There was a fall in all Member States (for which data are comparable) except for Estonia (+2.2%), Luxembourg (+1.0%) and Lithuania (+0.7%). The decrease was greatest in Croatia (-10.7 percentage points), Greece (-9.8%) and Cyprus (-8.8%). A break in time series for data for 2020 for Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden means that they cannot be reliably compared with data for 2015.. 

Among the non-EU countries, Montenegro had the highest unemployment rate for 20- to 34-year-olds in 2020 (at 25.9%), followed by North Macedonia (23.6%). In Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, the indicator was lower than 8%. 

Table 24. Unemployment rate of 20- to 34-year-olds (%) 

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Source: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat data, EU Labour Force Survey. Notes: (b) ‘break in time series’; (p) ‘provisional’; data are not presented when they are not available and/or do not support sufficiently reliable comparisons across countries or over time.

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