Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Aug 31 2023

Unemployment in EMU Stays Put in July

Unemployment rates in the European Monetary Union are stationary at 6.4% in July after falling in June to 6.4% from 6.5% in May.

Country level results: Among the twelve European Monetary Union members who report unemployment rates early, individual country unemployment rates fell in Belgium, Spain, Ireland, and Greece in July. Unemployment rates rose in Austria, Finland, France, Italy, and in the Netherlands. Broadly speaking, unemployment rates in the monetary union are trending lower. However, the data for July offer a cautionary tale regarding where trends are headed. At the bottom of the table, we provide reference unemployment rates for the United States, the up-to-date claimant rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom, and the unemployment rate for Japan. The U.K. and Japan both saw elevated unemployment rates in July compared to June. The U.S. rate continued to snake down after having seen a relatively sharp increase in the unemployment rate in May that has since unwound.

Sequential trends Sequential trends for unemployment rates show that for the overall European Monetary Union rate the unemployment rate is down by 0.3 percentage points over 12 months; it's also down by 0.3 percentage points over six months; it is lower by 0.1 percentage points over three months. Trends across countries show declines in the unemployment rate over 12 months, six months and three months for Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. Portugal shows an increase over 12 months, with declines over six months and three months. Other countries show increases on all horizons; those are Austria, Finland, France, and Luxembourg. The Netherlands shows an increase over 12 months and three months, with no change over six months.

Ranking countries by their level of unemployment We can also look at the broad rankings for the unemployment rate. Here we find that all the monetary union countries except Luxembourg and Austria have an unemployment rate that ranks in the lower 50% of its distribution of unemployment rates (on data since 1994) marking them all as below their historic medians on this timeline. Belgium, Germany, France, and Ireland all have unemployment rates that are in the lower 10 percentile of their respective historic queues of unemployment rate observations. These are countries with exceptionally low unemployment rates compared to their own historic standards. Make no mistake: European labor markets are tight! Among the countries with unemployment rates below they're medians but somewhat higher, we have Greece with the 40.7 percentile standing, Spain with a 25.9 percentile standing and Finland with the 22.4 percentile standing. All of these are moderately low to still exceptionally low unemployment rates indicating strong labor market conditions across the monetary union- just about everywhere.

Summing up There are certainly concerns and risks within the monetary union with inflation still high with the ECB still fighting that with some evidence of slipping growth in manufacturing and some erosion in the services sector and, of course, the war between Ukraine and Russia raging not far from the borders of many of these member countries. For the time being, the job markets are remaining strong; there's only a hint of some backtracking from the data in July. It's still something to keep close watch on because when the economic data change, conditions can shift quickly.

  • Robert A. Brusca is Chief Economist of Fact and Opinion Economics, a consulting firm he founded in Manhattan. He has been an economist on Wall Street for over 25 years. He has visited central banking and large institutional clients in over 30 countries in his career as an economist. Mr. Brusca was a Divisional Research Chief at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY (Chief of the International Financial markets Division), a Fed Watcher at Irving Trust and Chief Economist at Nikko Securities International. He is widely quoted and appears in various media.   Mr. Brusca holds an MA and Ph.D. in economics from Michigan State University and a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan. His research pursues his strong interests in non aligned policy economics as well as international economics. FAO Economics’ research targets investors to assist them in making better investment decisions in stocks, bonds and in a variety of international assets. The company does not manage money and has no conflicts in giving economic advice.

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