Europe 2020 employment indicators

Employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the EU reached a peak at 73.1 % in 2019 17 Member States achieved their 2020 targets

In 2019, the year before COVID-19 containment measures were widely introduced by EU Member States, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union of 27 Member States  (EU) stood at 73.1%,     up compared with 2018 (72.4 %). The Europe 2020 strategy target is to reach a total employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 of at least 75 % in the EU by 2020. This objective has been translated into different national targets in order to reflect the situation and possibilities of each Member State to contribute to the common goal.

An upward trend in the employment rate is visible both for men and women in the period up to 2019. The employment rate for men hit 79.0% in 2019, having increased steadily since 2013. As for women, their employment rate continuously rose since 2010 to reach 67.3% in 2019. Similarly, the employment rate of persons aged 55 to 64 in the EU grew steadily, from 35.0% in 2000 to 59.1% in 2019. The greater participation of older workers is also one of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on employment.

This information comes from the 2019 results of the European Labour Force Survey. Further details are available  in an article issued by Eurostat,  the  statistical  office  of  the  European  Union.  This  survey  collects  data  on employment and unemployment,  as  well as on a large range of other variables related to the labour market,   of which only a small selection is shown in this News Release.

17 Member States achieved their Europe 2020 employment target

Compared with 2018, the employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 increased in 2019 in all Member States with the exception of Sweden, where it fell slightly (-0.3 percentage points, pp), though remaining on a very high level. It grew most strongly in Bulgaria (+2.6 pp), Cyprus (+1.8 pp), Greece and Malta (both +1.7 pp) and Croatia (+ 1.5 pp).

The highest employment rates were recorded in Sweden (82.1%), Germany (80.6%), Czechia (80.3%), Estonia (80.2%) and the Netherlands (80.1%). These five countries also exceeded their national targets for this indicator, as was the case for Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

On the other hand, the lowest employment rate was observed in Greece (61.2%), although it grew over the year (+1.7 pp), followed by Italy (63.5%, +0.5 pp), Croatia (66.7%, +1.5 pp) as well as Spain (68.0%, +1.0 pp).

Narrowest gender employment gap in Lithuania, widest in Greece and Malta

Employment rates of men and women, however, varied considerably in many Member States in 2019.

The difference between the employment rate of women and men aged 20 to 64 was lowest in Lithuania (77.4% for women vs. 79.0% for men, or -1.6 pp), Finland (-2.7 pp), Latvia (-3.8 pp) and Sweden (-4.7 pp).

At the opposite end of the scale, the largest difference between the employment rate of women and men was observed in Greece and Malta (both -20.0 pp). Big gaps were also recorded in Italy (-19.6 pp) and Romania (-19.0 pp).

At EU level, the difference between the employment rate of women aged 20 to 64 (67.3%) and that of men aged 20 to 64 (79.0%) was -11.7 pp in 2019.