09 Jul
Eurostat absences from work european union

Absences from work at record high (EU labour market in the first quarter 2020)

Absences from work at record high in European Union according to the figures by Eurostat.

The first quarter 2020 is the first quarter in which the labour market across the European Union (EU) has been
affected by COVID-19 measures taken by Member States.

Employment and unemployment as defined by the ILO concept are, in this particular situation, not sufficient to describe all the developments taking place in the labour market.

In this first phase of the crisis, active measures to contain employment losses led to absences from work rather than dismissals, and individuals could not search for work or were not available due to the containment measures, thus not counting as unemployed according to the ILO concept.

In a press release, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, is publishing a set of additional seasonally adjusted quarterly indicators which help to capture the most recent movements on the labour market in the 27 EU Member States.

These additional indicators include total labour market slack, which comprises all persons who have an unmet need for employment either because they are unemployed according to the ILO definition, are close to unemployment while not fulfilling all ILO criteria, or are working part-time and would like to work additional hours.

Further, absences from work broken down by reason are published, as well as an index of total actual hours worked in the main job. More new indicators on recent job leavers and starters, as well as weekly total absences and transitions out of employment are published in the Eurostat database.

Labour market slack increased by 0.3 percentage points in first quarter 2020 compared to fourth quarter 2019, employment stable

Key figures

In the first quarter of 2020, 190.9 million persons in the EU were employed.

The EU seasonally adjusted employment rate for people aged 20-64 stood at 73.3%, unchanged compared to the fourth quarter 2019 and up from 73.0% in the first quarter 2019. 12.8 million persons were unemployed and the EU seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.3%, down from 6.4% in the fourth quarter 2019 and from 6.7% in the first quarter 2019.

At the same time, seasonally adjusted total labour market slack in the EU, consisting in unmet demand for labour, amounted to 26.8 million persons, which represented 12.7% of the extended labour force in the first quarter 2020, up from 12.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019. This was the first quarter-on-quarter increase since the peak in the second quarter 2013, when the labour market slack had stood at 19.0%

Differences among Member States

Among the Member States, overall labour market slack increased in 16 countries, dropped in 9 countries and
remained stable in Bulgaria and Spain.

In Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden both overall labour market slack and unemployment, in percentage of the extended labour force, increased.

In Ireland labour market slack increased and unemployment remained stable.

In Croatia, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal overall labour market slack increased and unemployment decreased.

In Malta and Romania overall labour market slack decreased while unemployment increased. In Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Greece, France, the Netherlands and Poland both overall labour market slack and unemployment decreased.

No changes in either indicator were recorded in Bulgaria, and in Spain only unemployment increased slightly.


By: Estela Martín

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