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Europe / 31.2 million people of all ages are either looking for jobs, willing to do so

Euro-area data this week will probably show the region ended 2013 with a record jobless rate that reveals only part of the social legacy of the debt crisis.

While economists predict unemployment in December stayed at an all-time high of 12.1 percent, with about 19 million jobless, that tally excludes legions of adults who would also work if they could. Bloomberg calculations for the third quarter show a wider total of 31.2 million people of all ages are either looking for jobs, willing to do so though unavailable, or else have given up.

Youth Unemployment

Italy’s statistics agency, Istat, will release labor market data at 10 a.m. local time on Jan. 31, an hour before the European Union’s counterpart in Luxembourg publishes its jobs report on the euro region. Italian unemployment reached a record 12.7 percent in November.

While the euro area exited its longest-ever recession last year and economic confidence is improving, almost a quarter of the region’s young labor force is looking for work.

“The problem is jobs, jobs, jobs,” Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said in an interview in Davos, Switzerland, last week. “There is nothing politically more explosive, more dangerous and more destabilizing than having a whole generation of young people being very frustrated.”

Situation Worse

The euro area’s official unemployment rate includes only those who actively sought work in the previous four weeks and are available to start within the next two weeks. The labor underutilization rate compiled by Bloomberg using Eurostat data for the third quarter includes the official unemployed as well as those willing to work who have given up looking for a job or are not immediately available.

Among euro-zone countries, Italy has the largest group of potential workers who don’t appear on official unemployment statistics. The gap between the country’s labor underutilization rate, encompassing people between the ages of 15 and 74, and its unemployment rate is more than twice that of Spain and more than five times that of Greece.

“The situation in the region, and in Italy in particular, is certainly worse than it seems at first glance,” Raffaella Tenconi, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London, said by telephone. “This is particularly evident when you look at youth unemployment and participation rates.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 

Bloomberg Business Week

via Euro Jobless Record Not Whole Story as Italians Give Up – Businessweek.

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