6.8 million young people in the EU are either unemployed or underemployed.
Ensuring better job quality and working conditions by “flexicurity” (flexibility and security) policies is a European Commission priority in order to reduce unemployment rates. Although, policies to reduce segmentation have been insufficient as vulnerable groups (e.g. young people, temporary workers) have been hit the hardest by the crisis (Flagship Initiative “An agenda for new skills and jobs”, Communication from the Commission, 23.11.2010).

The main indicator considered here refers to underemployed part-time workers: the share of young people aged 15-24, who are in part-time work, wish to work more and are available to do so. It is complemented by the unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds.


Key points

  • In 2010, 1.5 million young workers in the EU-27 aged 15-24 were underemployed (7.6% of total employment). The underemployment rate (aged 15 to 24) increased by 1.7 percentage points in the EU between 2008 and 2010. One in four young part-time workers was underemployed.
  • Joblessness rose even more than underemployment. Between 2008 and 2010, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15-24 increased by 6 percentage points in the EU (from 15% to 21%).
  • In 2010, the underemployment rate of young people varied widely across EU countries: Sweden reported the highest percentage (15% of total employment), followed by Spain (14.3%) and by the United Kingdom (13.7%). The lowest rates in 2010 were reported in the Czech Republic (0.7% of total employment) followed by Belgium (2.2%) and by Slovakia (2.7%).
  • Compared to 2008, the share of young people who work part-time although they would like to have a full-time job increased in all EU countries except for Germany where it remained at a similar level
  • In 2010, young women were more likely to be forced into involuntary part-time jobs than young men (57.5% of all employment).


Data originate from the EU Labour Force Survey and are subject to its methodology. Data were processed by Cedefop and extracted from the Eurostat online database on 19th January 2012. In interpreting the data, possible differences in national implementations of the EU LFS should be taken into account.

More information on the concept of underemployment can be found in Eurostat's 'statistics explained'.

There is a break in series in 2010 for the Netherlands. Data for some other countries are not presented either due to lack of availability or due to lack of reliability in the time series examined here.