The Highest Youth Unemployment Rates in Europe

Youth unemployment is a problem faced across European countries.
Youth unemployment is a problem faced across European countries.

As defined by the United Nations, a youth is someone between the age of 15 and 24 years. Youth unemployment refers to the situation where young people are looking for a job but are unable to get one. Youths that are not employed but are not actively looking for a job are not included in the statistics. Normally, statisticians analyze youth unemployment separately from other age groups because the youth tend to form the largest percentages of the unemployed.

Younger people who are fresh out of school normally have problems getting jobs right away. The unemployment figures are even higher in weaker economies compared to the stronger ones. In addition, countries that have higher levels of industrialization tend to fare better in this regard compared to emerging ones. It is crucial to note that the global trends of youth unemployment have been more or less consistent over the past ten years. An analysis of the trends has revealed that they are unlikely to change into the future.

Youth Unemployment: How is It in Europe?

In the EU, there has been a general rise in unemployment across all groups since 2008 due to the economic crisis. The crisis forced most businesses into bankruptcy and had to close down or let people go. After that, the unemployment numbers went slightly higher because the young do not have experience while older people are also struggling to get work despite their experience. At the rate with which technology is advancing, automation is also likely to force more people out. A projected increase in population will also play a part in the rise.

Data shows that Greece tops the chart of youth unemployment in Europe with 33% of them without work. This figure is closely followed by Spain at 32.2% while Italy is third at 27.1% unemployment rate. Sweden and Croatia close the top five with 19.7% and 19.3% at fourth and fifth respectively. The Czech Republic is doing well with an unemployment rate of only 5.1%.


Greece is topping this chart because of the high amount of debt that it has. In 2011 alone, Greece was handed a bailout sum to the tune of €109 billion because of fears of loan defaults. Credit rating firms have also termed Greece as a high-risk area, which has shied investors away from the nation. In turn, this has adversely affected the economy to the level that there are virtually no opportunities.  More people are then forced into poverty thus raising the unemployment levels further.


Spain has experienced a rise in the rate of youth unemployment since the 2007/2008 financial crisis. Among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Spain was hit hard and experienced a loss of jobs for the youth. One of the reasons for this is the labor practice in Europe. These practices allow young people to be hired using temporary contracts that are easily terminated compared to permanent ones. Indeed, before the crisis, most young people had the temporary ones and were the first ones to be fired. Other factors include a high level of school dropouts and a gap between the demand for work and the education offered.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a success largely because of government policies. Policies that have been in place since the 1990s allow factories and investments to thrive thus creating new jobs constantly. These policies give tax breaks to new firms and offer financial aid for job creation. The economy received a major boost in 2004 after joining the EU. In particular, the automotive industry plays a major part with the likes of Toyota and Hyundai having production bases in the country. All this, coupled with an aging population, means the youth in the Czech Republic have more opportunities.

Global Unemployment Rates

On the global scale, North Africa and the Middle East have some of the highest unemployment rates for the youth. They even have high unemployment rates for other age groups. Consequently, their weak economies have high populations and poor infrastructure.

Which European Country Has the Highest Youth Unemployment Rate

RankYouth unemployment rate in EU countries August 2019
1Youth unemployment rate in EU member states as of August 2019 (seasonally adjusted)
3Greece**33in %
4Spain32.2in %
5Italy27.1in %
6Sweden19.7in %
7Croatia**19.3in %
8France19.2in %
9Portugal17.6in %
10Finland17.1in %
11Cyprus**16.6in %
12Romania**16.2in %
13Euro area15.4in %
14Slowakia15.1in %
15Ireland14.7in %
16EU14.2in %
17Belgium**14.1in %
18Luxembourg14.1in %
19Estonia*13.6in %
20Lithuania12.3in %
21Latvia12.1in %
22United Kingdom**11.2in %
23Poland10.4in %
24Hungary*9.9in %
25Austria9.9in %
26Denmark9.7in %
27Malta8.4in %
28Bulgaria8.2in %
29Slovenia**7.3in %
30Netherlands6.9in %
31Germany5.7in %
32Czech Republic5.1in %

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