Out of Work? Out of Luck...


This blog post is courtesy of our Blogger at Large, Tara Powers...

Hola once again from my temporary home across the pond. Since I’ve last blogged, things haven’t gotten much better with the economy in the U.S. or abroad — on Tuesday the European Commission approved yet another bailout plan, this one amounting to 9 billion Euros, for German bank IKB, which has also been burned by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

The seasonal unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to climb as 2008 comes to a close. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent in January of 2008, and as of September it stood at 6.1 percent. The percentage saw a steady increase over the course of the year, with the biggest jump being between April and May, from 5.0 percent to 5.5 percent.

The National Statistical Institute of Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the real estate crisis, released data on the unemployment rates that this country has seen over the course of the year. The percentage of those out of work had reached 11.3 percent by August of 2008, the last month for which the NSI has data available.

As in the United States, Spain’s unemployment rate has climbed — it stood at 9.4 percent in February of 2008. It is the first time since November of 2007 that Spain has had more than 2.6 million people out of work at a given time, and economic authorities here are warning that those numbers may keep growing well into 2009.

The BLS also maintains data about the rate of unemployment in selected European countries. France and Germany had 8.3 and 7.4 percent, respectively, of their populations out of work in August 2008. France’s unemployment rate has increased from 8.0 percent at the start of 2008, whereas Germany’s has actually decreased from 7.8 percent.

The EU as a whole has had a 6.7 percent unemployment rate throughout 2008. While unemployment rates in the EU have mostly held steady from March of 2007 to March of 2008, when this particular study was done, several countries did see steady increases. Spain and Ireland had the highest jumps in unemployment between 2007 and 2008, Spain from 8.1 percent to 9.3 percent and Ireland from 4.6 percent to 5.6 percent.

According to one study done by Eurostat (the Statistical Office of the European Communities), the countries in the so-called Eurozone (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Cyprus and Malta) have been hit harder than the larger EU27, which includes a broader range of EU member countries. Within this group, the number of unemployed people jumped by 25,000 in July of 2008, with the highest rates once again in Spain (11 percent) and Slovakia (10.3 percent).

So what does all of this mean? Well, it would seem to mean that some of the EU nations are suffering the effects of the global economic crisis more than others, in the same way some areas of the U.S. have been harder hit.

At least in Spain’s case, where the housing market followed a similar pattern to that of the United States in the years and months leading up to the proverbial bubble-bursting, the effects (rising unemployment rate, for instance) are very similar. In the EU, though, where individual bailout plans must be applied to each member country’s particular situation, addressing every country’s individual economic needs will certainly prove interesting.


Image Credit: Tax Credits on Flickr.com