A new analytical report shows how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced employment in Europe, but also gives hope for improvement in the labour market situation.

The report and data published by Cedefop indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic brought Europe’s positive employment trends to a halt – in 2020 over 2.5 million jobs were lost, unemployment and the share of young people not in employment, education, or training (NEETs) increased, while the share of adults in education and training decreased.

The pandemic has influenced European countries in different ways – among 29 countries included in the analysis, only three (Malta, Luxemburg, and Cyprus) experienced employment growth between 2019 and 2020. In eight other countries (including Poland), employment dropped by less than 1%. In Estonia, Spain, Bulgaria, and Iceland, employment dropped by more than 2% in the same period.

Individual sectors were also variably affected by COVID-19. Generally, the more a given sector was inclined to switch to telework, the better it coped in the first year of pandemic. Sectors providing specialised services fared better than construction or manufacturing, which lost many jobs. Employment also dropped in sectors relying on direct costumer contact, such as accommodations and food, trade, rental services, employment services and travel agencies. 

The newest data on unemployment in the European Union give hope for a quick recovery in the labour market. The unemployment rate in the EU in December 2021 reached 6.4% (7% in the euro area), which is 1 pp less that in December 2020. Cedefop’s analysis of online job advertisements (within in the Skills-OVATE programme) also suggests that the European labour market situation is improving. The number of such advertisements in 2021 increased by 50% compared to the previous year. This increase was seen in almost all analysed job market segments.

The full report is available at Cedeop’s webpage.