An important EU policy today is bringing about successful transition between school and work for young people.

Where young people struggle to make the transition for whatever reason, long-term consequences can be felt affecting their progression through the labour market over the lifecycle.

The youth unemployment rate is one measure which reflects the difficulties some young people face in making the transition from school to work. While it is generally calculated for those aged 15-24, the indicator below focuses on the 20-34 age group. This is to offer a more comprehensive view on young people, also considering later entry into the labour market due to young people staying longer in initial education and training; and to exclude the age group 15-19, where active participation in the labour market is relatively small (with many individuals being in education and training).

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

Figure 31: Unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds (%)

Source: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Key points

In 2016 the EU average unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds was 11.8%. The highest rate was reported by Greece (32.7%), followed by Spain (26.0%), Italy (21.5%), Croatia (18.1%), and Cyprus (17.8%). In contrast, Malta (4.6%), Germany (5.4%), the Czech Republic (5.8%), the Netherlands (5.8%), and the United Kingdom (6.1%) had the lowest rates in 2016.

The EU average unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds dropped by 1.3 percentage points between 2010 and 2016. This limited average change covers quite large differences between Member States. Over the same period, Lithuania reported the largest drop (by 13.4 percentage points) in the unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds, while Greece experienced the sharpest rise (by 13.2 percentage points).

Among the non-EU countries considered, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had a high unemployment rate for 30-34 year-olds in 2016, at 32.7% (equal to the rate in Greece). Iceland had the lowest unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds (at 4.4%).

Table 31: Unemployment rate for 20-34 year-olds (%)

Arrows ↗ or ↘ signal a positive or negative trend based on more than two data points and of magnitude 0.1 per year or more. Trends based on more than two data points but of smaller magnitude are indicated by →; trends based on two points only are marked ▪. Trends are estimated by means of regression models.
(b) Break after 2010. Therefore baseline data not included. (u) Eurostat: "low reliability". (z) Eurostat: "not applicable". (e) Eurostat: "estimated".

Source: Cedefop calculations based on Eurostat, EU labour force survey.

Data insights details

Related Theme


Annex 1: short description of indicators and additional notes


Annex 2: Reading the indicator statistical overviews