UK suffers largest job losses in EU

The UK suffered the largest job losses in Europe in the first three months of this year, a new report revealed today.

An EU body which monitors employment markets says the number of “announced” job losses in the 27 member states was just under 220,000 between the start of 2009 and March 31 – 63,330 of them in the UK.

Ireland's unemployment went up 5%.

The EU-wide figures jobless total is the largest fall in a similar period since the organisation, Eurofound, was set up in 2002 to study employment “restructuring”.

The figures mean job losses are now outnumbering job creation in Europe by almost three to one.

Dublin-based Eurofound recorded a total of 721 cases of restructuring in the EU in the first quarter, with the nearly 220,000 announced job losses balanced against 90,000 announced job gains.

The sectors most affected are financial services, car production, the retail trade generally, according to Eurofound’s latest “European Restructuring Monitor” (ERM) report.

But there were also strong job creation moves in the catering business - restaurants and hotels and fast-food outlets, as well as discount store retailing, indicating that these areas are benefiting from the downturn.

Of the 219,390 “announced job losses” recorded across the EU, the highest number (63,314) was in the UK, followed by Poland (38,975), Germany (17,461) and France (11,779).

For the third quarter in a row, car production was the sector with the greatest reported job loss (23,584 jobs).

Eurofound said the report reveals evidence that “the global recession is worsening and deepening”.

Growth forecasts continue to be revised downwards, with prediction of potential recovery for the global economy increasingly being pushed back to next year, and in some cases, even later.

“For the first quarter of 2009, the ERM quarterly has recorded the highest number of announced job losses since it started monitoring restructuring in the EU in 2002. Cases of announced job loss outnumbered those of job creation by almost three to one” says the report.

The Baltic States also recorded sharp falls in employment - jobless figures up between 6-9% in the last year.

Less dramatic figures are recorded elsewhere, but the report says the data for the first three months of 2009 confirm that unemployment is increasing in all EU countries except Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands, where there has been a sweeping shift to “short-time working, partial unemployment and other forms of working time flexibility”.

But the report offers what it calls “one small ray of light” – levels of “announced job creation” have grown in each of the last two quarters and are now nearly double the level of the third quarter of 2008.

A significant proportion of job gains are in bargain retailers and chain restaurants “whose fortunes appear to prosper as those of the economy around them deteriorates”.

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