Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Hungary were the EU member-states where poverty and social exclusion increased the most during the economic crisis, according to the European Commission’s Annual Review on employment and social developments released on Thursday.
The review noted that the poverty and social exclusion percentages in those countries were already high before the crisis.
Regarding Greece, the percentage of the population on the verge of poverty or social exclusion increased from 28.1% in 2008 to 35.7% in 2013, while serious deprivation of basic goods increased in the country from 11.2% in 2008 to 20.3% in 2013. Also, long-term unemployment in the country rose from 3.7% in 2008 to 18.6% in 2013, while the employment rate of the economically active population (25-64 age group) dropped during that period from 61.9% to 49.3%.
According to the European Commission review, in Greece, Spain, France and Italy, the percentage of the transition from part-time to permanent job status was among the lowest in the EU during the economic crisis, while in Greece and Portugal, 25% of the people working part-time, were jobless or inactive within a year.
Participation in education was a victim of the economic crisis, according to the European Commission, which in certain countries remained unchanged during the crisis (Greece, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia) or was reduced (Poland, Hungary).
The high level of unemployment since 2008 had resulted in an increase in the number of households with no working family members, mainly in Greece, Spain, Lithuania and Ireland.
Ireland, Spain and Greece had the highest percentage of young adults who continue to live with their parents or have moved back into their parents’ home due to financial problems, often with “no other choice than family solidarity.”
The biggest drop in education-sector investments was recorded in Romania (40%) and Hungary (over 30%) as well as Greece, UK, Latvia, Italy and Portugal (roughly 20%).
The percentage of European workers covered by collective labor contracts dropped from 66% in 2007 to 60% in 2012, while considerable reductions were recorded in Portugal, Greece and Spain.
One of the main findings of the 2014 Employment and Social Developments in Europe Review was that countries providing high quality jobs and effective social protection as well as investment in human capital have proved to be more resilient to the economic crisis.
The review also stressed the need to invest in the formation and maintenance of the workforce’s right skills in order to support productivity, as well as the challenge of restoring convergence among member-states.
The lesson learned from the recession is that its negative impact on employment and income was smaller for countries with more open and less segmented labor markets, and stronger investment in lifelong learning.