Top Countries in Europe by Employment Rate – 2001/2021

Which countries have the highest employment rate in Europe (on the European continent)? What has been the impact of Covid-19 on this particular indicator and more generally on the economy of the old continent? To answer these and other questions in the article we will analyse the evolution of the employment rate in recent years. In doing so we will use the data available in Eurostat. But before looking at the data here is the definition of the employment rate. But before looking at the data here is the definition of the employment rate. According to ISTAT, the employment rate is: Employment rate: the ratio of employed persons to the corresponding reference population. In this case the reference population is all citizens of the countries taken as reference, aged 15 to 64. Top Countries in Europe by Employment Rate – 2001/2021

Top Countries in Europe by Employment Rate

Let’s start with a first question and answer. Which are the 15 countries in Europe by employment rate in the first quarter of 2021? In the lead with this statistical index is Switzerland. In Switzerland, the employment rate is even higher than 80%. Specifically, in the first quarter of 2021, 80.2% of 100 people between the ages of 15 and 64 were working. This is a very high figure, which puts Switzerland at the top of the employment rate league table. In second place is the Netherlands with a figure of £79.3 and in third place Iceland with 76.7%. In fourth place is Germany which, although 5.2 points behind Switzerland, has a figure of 3/4 of the population. The United Kingdom (which recently left the European Union) is also at the top of the list with 74.7%, followed by other countries such as Sweden, Denmark and so on. Interestingly, the top 15 do not include countries such as France, Italy and Spain. France has a value of 66.5%, Spain 61.7% and Italy is far behind with 56.5%.

And 20 years ago, what was the situation? Which country was at the top of the employment rate charts? In the first quarter of 2001, again according to Eurostat data, Iceland was the first country on the European continent (of the companies for which we have data) in terms of employment rate. In fact in Iceland the rate was 87%. Almost 9 out of 10 inhabitants in the age group 15 to 64 had a job, small or large. In second place, during the same period, was Switzerland, now in first place, with a rate of 78.1%. Today’s rate is higher than 20 years ago. This is followed by northern countries such as Norway with 76.3%, Denmark with 75.2%, the Netherlands and Sweden with about 73%.

The map with the 2001-2021 employment rate

In order to give the reader an additional tool, I have produced this map showing the data nation by nation. It is interesting to note that on a visual level, Italy, some Mediterranean countries and Eastern European countries in general have historically tended to have lower employment rates. In Bulgaria, for example, the employment rate was below 50% in 2001.

Another interesting fact is that in the periods of crisis, i.e. in the first financial crisis of 2008/2009 and then in the debt crisis, there were decisive developments in almost all European countries. However, those who were already in a difficult situation suffered more from the economic crises. The map also shows the impact of the Coronavirus in the first quarters of 2020. An impact that, as we know, was not only strong in health terms but also in economic terms.

The impact of Coronavirus on employment rates in Europe

What has been the impact of the Coronavirus in terms of employment rate? Here we use directly the dashboard on the Eurostat website. Here you can see the employment rate for the 20/64 age group both by country (or even for the whole European Union) and by gender and age.

At the level of the European Union (not Europe as a continent) the occpuation rate in 2020 was 72.5%. In one year, from 2019 to 2020, it went from 73.2% to 72.5%. Although the change seems “small”, in reality this change is significant because behind every percentage there are thousands and thousands of workers. Moreover, in this case we are considering the 27 countries of the European Union, not a single country. In general we can see that during the years of the financial and debt crisis the level of the employment rate was basically unchanged. From 2014 onwards there was a growth that was slowly improving over the years. In 2020, however, there was a turnaround. It will be interesting to see the data for 2021. There are signs of a restart, but we will only see how real they are at the end of the year.

At European level, young people have certainly been hit very hard by the crisis. The employment rate fell by 2 points from 2019 to 2020. It fell from 33.5% to 31.5%. The impact of the Coronavirus has actually led to young people having a lower employment rate than 11 years earlier, in 2009, when it was 32.7%.

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For this article I used the data from the Istat database. For the videos and the map I used the Flourish App.

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