> Youth unemployment rate: 36.4%
> Overall unemployment rate: 15.2%
> GDP in 2010: $228.57 billion
> GDP growth in 2010: 1.38%
> Moody’s credit rating: Ba3
Portugal’s unemployment rate has increased from 14.7% in January to 15.2% in May 2012. This trend is far more exacerbated among Portuguese youth. In 2000, youth unemployment rate in Portugal was just 10.5%, but has risen consistently since. This year, the country’s monthly youth unemployment rate has frequently exceeded 35%. Portugal has emerged as one of the areas of greatest concernin the European sovereign debt crisis, its credit rating from Moody’s having been downgraded five timesin the past three years. In order to combat its rising youth unemployment, Portugal promised to reimburse companies for up to 90% of social security contributions made for workers between the ages of 16 and 30 if they had previously been unemployed for more than four months.
> Youth unemployment rate: 38.8%
> Overall unemployment rate: 13.6%
> GDP in 2010: $87.27 billion
> GDP growth in 2010: 4.24%
> Moody’s credit rating: A2
In recent years, Slovakia featured among the highest unemployment rates in all of the European Union. Yet, like many other European countries, unemployment in Slovakia has risen dramatically in recent years, reaching a post-financial crisis peak of 14.5% in 2010. Though the total unemployment rate declined shortly thereafter, the youth unemployment rate has continued to rise. In April, youth unemployment rate jumped to 39.7% from 34.5% the month before. Slovakia’s new prime minister, Robert Fico, is reportedly considering constructing public housing facilities and providing subsidies in order to reduce youth unemployment.
> Youth unemployment rate: 41.6%
> Overall unemployment rate: 15.8%
> GDP in 2010: $60.85 billion
> GDP growth in 2010: -1.19%
> Moody’s credit rating: Baa3
Although unemployment rose considerably following the financial crisis, young Croatian workers have had a particularly difficult time. Since 2008, Croatia’s youth unemployment rate has nearly doubled from 21.9% in 2008 to 41.6% in May. The former Yugoslav nation’s GDP fell by 5.99% in 2009 and by 1.19% 2010, and problems still persist. In late 2011, the World Bank announced Croatia was likely to reenter a recession, and early indications suggest the economy is once again contracting. This probably will exacerbate unemployment concerns for both the general population and young Croatians alike.
1. Greece (tie)
> Youth unemployment rate: 52.1% (March 2012)
> Overall unemployment rate: 21.9% (March 2012)
> GDP in 2010: $301 billion
> GDP growth in 2010: -3.52%
> Moody’s credit rating: C
As Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has unfolded, Greece was revealed as one of the countries with the worst problems. The country’s overall unemployment rate increased from 7.7% in 2008 to 21.9% in March 2012. Since December 2009, Moody’s has downgraded Greece’s sovereign credit rating seven times, from A1 to C. In 2009, central government debt reached 141.97% of GDP, while GDP fell by 3.25% — before falling again by 3.52% in 2010. This has severely affected Greece’s youngest workers, 52.1% of whom were unemployed as of March. In Greece’s June national election, much of the youth vote flocked to SYRIZA, a leftist and antiausterity party promising to deal with the youth unemployment.
1. Spain (tie)
> Youth unemployment rate: 52.1%
> Overall unemployment rate: 24.6%
> GDP in 2010: $1.4 trillion
> GDP growth in 2010: -0.14%
> Moody’s credit rating: Baa3
Since 2010, Spain has maintained the highest overall unemployment rate of all countries surveyed. In May 2012, the country’s youth unemployment rate caught up to that of Greece’s 52.1%, the highest rate in the study. Recent indicators suggest increasing economic weakness in Spain: the Markit Spain Manufacturing PMI, which tracks manufacturing growth, registered the lowest score in 37 months and the fifth-consecutive negative month. On June 13, rating agency Moody’s downgraded Spanish government debt from A3 to Baa3, and placed it on review for future downgrades. The effect of all this is a generation that, despite being well educated, has nowhere to work and lives with parents longer than ever.
Mike Sauter and Alexander Hess