What is behind the recent rebound in euro area employment?

More than half of employment is based on temporary contracts.

Euro area headcount employment has increased by over 2.2 million since the post-crisis low in the middle of 2013. This article investigates the sources and characteristics of this rebound, finding that it is heavily concentrated in some of the worst-hit labour markets, to a considerable extent in low productivity sectors. While most of the net employment created over recent quarters has been high-skilled, full- time and waged (as opposed to self-employment), slightly more than half is based on temporary contracts. Part-time work also features strongly in several economies. Women and older workers in particular have benefited from the increase, reflecting longer-term trends in euro area employment developments.

After almost five years of virtually uninterrupted employment losses amounting to over 5.5 million people, euro area employment stabilised in the second quarter of 2013 and has since increased by over 2.2 million. Although this increase provides a much-needed boost to euro area labour markets, employment remains some 2% below its level before the recent economic crisis.

This article investigates the sources of the increase in employment seen across the euro area since the post-crisis low in the middle of 2013, focusing in particular on developments in the largest euro area economies. In the absence of up-to-date data on employment flows,1 the article examines the features behind the recent rebound in employment levels, in order to provide insights into the changing composition of employment. Section 2 provides an overview of employment developments across the euro area, examining the drivers of the recent increases at the national level. Box 1 compares post-crisis employment developments in the euro area and the United States. Box 2 looks at the impact of recent structural reforms on employment developments in some of the labour markets worst hit by the economic crisis. Section 3 examines the sectoral distribution of the rebound in euro area employment. Section 4 examines the worker and job characteristics of the employment created. Section 5 concludes with policy recommendations.

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