The unemployment rate in the euro area reached very high levels in the 1980s and 1990s. Having fallen back during the initial years of EMU, it has risen markedly since the onset of the 2008 recession. In August 2013, the euro area unemployment rate stood at 12.0%, corresponding to about 19.2 million unemployed persons across the euro area. Euro area participation rates tend to be lower in the euro area than in the United States - particularly for younger and older workers. Taken together with the relatively low number of hours worked per employed person, this is an important contributor to lower GDP per capita in the euro area than in the United States.
Unemployment in the euro area, the United States and Japan
(as a percentage of the labour force; annual data)
Sources: European Commission; Eurostat; ECB staff calculations. Based on annual averages. Euro area data up to and including 1995 relate to euro area 12 (prior to 1991 on the basis of West Germany); post-1995, data refer to euro area 17; for 2012 average of monthly values up to and including November.