A Gallup survey shows rising European joblessness is accompanied by falling living standards as Nearly Half of Younger Southern Europeans Underemployed

In 2013, nearly half of 15- to 29-year-olds in six southern European countries are underemployed — meaning they are either unemployed or working part time but wanting full-time work.

Though the unemployment rate is the labor market indicator that typically grabs headlines, underemployment may be almost as damaging to younger people in terms of their own long-term prospects and their countries’ labor productivity. Temporary and part-time jobs are those most often available to young people, and they are often the first to be laid off because they lack seniority. Underemployment rates are much lower among southern Europeans aged 30 to 49 (26%) and those aged 50 and older (24%).

Young people in southern Europe almost universally (90%) say it is a bad time to find a job in their communities, versus about two-thirds of young people in western Europe (67%) and eastern Europe (68%). However, at 57%, labor force participation among young southern Europeans is as high as it has been over the last several years, suggesting that those who find themselves out of work do not have the option of leaving the workforce altogether — to pursue educational opportunities, for example — until the labor market improves.

What’s Needed vs. What Happened

What’s needed is work rule reform, easier standards to fire people, fewer government workers, lower minimum wages, less regulation, and less taxation.

What happened was higher taxes thanks to pressure from the IMF, Troika, and EU nannycrats. Economic pundits incorrectly labeled the result as “austerity”.

Yes, austerity did not work as implemented, as Keynesian economists predicted. But Austrian economists predicted the same thing.

Raising taxes in the midst of a recession is a downright foolish thing to do, and it happened in spades. The results speak for themselves.

Explosive Mix

Nearly half of young Europeans are simmering in a pot of misery. Something has to give because “austerity” as implemented is not working.

This is going to boil over in a political explosion of some sort, and when it happens, fully expect heads of state to say “no one could possibly have seen this coming”.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock