Unemployment is one of the problems that Finland has been dragging on for decades. Even though the numbers have improved considerably during the last year, the lack of work is still a crude reality that situates this country -so accustomed to leading rankings of excellence- among the worst classified of the European Union (EU).
The last compared and seasonally-adjusted figures published today by the statistical office of the EU (Eurostat) show that at the end of May Finland was the sixth EU Member State -among 28- with the highest unemployment rate, after Greece, Spain, Italy, France and Croatia. The Finnish unemployment rate was 6.8%, half a percentage point above the EU average (6.3%).
Finland is, however, below the average unemployment rate when compared to the whole euro area. Among the 19 states that share the single currency, the average percentage of unemployment is 7.5%. In this case, Eurostat situates Finland as the fifth country with the highest unemployment rate in the euro area.
The situation in Finland is by far more complicated among young people under 25 years who are part of the country's workforce. The Eurostat statistics shows that, at the end of May, 16.7% of them were unemployed. This percentage of youth unemployment is higher than the averages recorded both in the EU (14.3%) and in the euro area (15.7%).
In aggregated terms, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the EU was 6.3% in May 2019, down from 6.9% one year before. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU since the start of the EU monthly unemployment series in January 2000. Similarly, the euro area unemployment rate fell from 8.3% in May 2018 to 7.5% in May 2019, the lowest rate for the single-currency area since July 2008.
The statistical office of the European Union estimates that 15,653,000 men and women in the EU were unemployed in May 2019, of whom 12,348,000 were in the euro area. Compared with May 2018, unemployment fell by 1,277,000 in the EU and by 1,133,000 in the euro area.
Image Source: Eurostat
Lowest and highest rates
Among the Member States, the three lowest unemployment rates in May 2019 were recorded in Czechia (2.2%), Germany (3.1%) and the Netherlands (3.3%). On the opposite side, the highest unemployment rates were observed in three southern-European countries: Greece (18.1% in March 2019, the latest comparable data available), Spain (13.6%) and Italy (9.9%).
Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in 23 Member States, remained stable in Austria and increased in Denmark (from 5.0% to 5.1%), Luxembourg (from 5.6% to 5.7%), Poland (from 3.7% to 3.8%) and Sweden (from 6.2% to 6.3%).
The largest decreases were registered in Greece (from 20.2% to 18.1% between March 2018 and March 2019), Spain (from 15.4% to 13.6%) and Cyprus (from 8.3% to 6.5%).
In May 2019, the unemployment rate in the United States was 3.6%, stable compared with April 2019 and down from 3.8% in May 2018.
According to Eurostat, in May 2019 there were 3,217,000 young persons (under 25) unemployed in the EU, of whom 2,295,000 were in the euro area.
Compared with May 2018, youth unemployment decreased by 176,000 in the EU and by 133,000 in the euro area. In May 2019, the youth unemployment rate was 14.3% in the EU and 15.7% in the euro area, compared with 15.1% and 17.0% respectively in May 2018.
In May 2019, the lowest rates of youth unemployment were observed in Germany (5.1%) and the Netherlands (6.3%), while the highest were recorded in Greece (40.4% in March 2019), Spain (31.7%) and Italy (30.5%).