The scarcity of good jobs has been one of the most troubling aspects of the economic crisis facing southern Europe, particularly for younger people with little job experience. In 2013, nearly half of 15- to 29-year-olds in six southern European countries are underemployed – meaning they are either unemployed or working part time but wanting full-time work.
Though the unemployment rate is the labor market indicator that typically grabs headlines, underemployment may be almost as damaging to younger people in terms of their own long-term prospects and their countries’ labor productivity. Temporary and part-time jobs are those most often available to young people, and they are often the first to be laid off because they lack seniority. Underemployment rates are much lower among southern Europeans aged 30 to 49 (26%) and those aged 50 and older (24%).
Young people in southern Europe almost universally (90%) say it is a bad time to find a job in their communities, versus about two-thirds of young people in Western Europe (67%) and eastern Europe (68%). However, at 57%, labor force participation among young southern Europeans is as high as it has been over the last several years, suggesting that those who find themselves out of work do not have the option of leaving the workforce altogether – to pursue educational opportunities, for example – until the labor market improves.
Economic hardship may help explain why it is not feasible for many underemployed youth in the region to drop out of the labor market. In most southern European countries, young people have been increasingly likely to say their standard of living is getting worse; in Cyprus and Greece, well over half now respond this way. Many who are unemployed may continue to search for jobs to claim unemployment benefits.
Mish rightfully points to the fraudulent “austerity” that has been imposed on these countries as one reason there is no recovery in sight for them.
Nearly half of young Europeans are simmering in a pot of misery. Something has to give because “austerity” as implemented is not working.
This is going to boil over in a political explosion of some sort, and when it happens, fully expect heads of state to say “no one could possibly have seen this coming”.
So what is coming? War? That seems like the tried and true method of the past. Whatever is coming, it won’t be good.