The 15 Rich Countries Facing A Huge Youth Unemployment Problem

Spain

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Youth unemployment has been a driving force behind civil unrest in the Mideast this year. But developed countries also suffer staggering unemployment for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24.In the OECD, rates will average around 18% this year. But this isn’t a new problem. Countries like France, Chile and Italy have posted double digit rates for over a decade. It has led to a significant “brain drain” for some of Europe’s economies, where top talent looks for better opportunities abroad.

While austerity measures and budget cuts may have complicated issues, the youth unemployment problem is a long-term one many economies have been masking.

#15 Portugal

Youth unemployment 2009: 20%

Youth unemployment 2002: 11.6%

Background: In Portugal youth unemployment jumped to 23% in 2010 driven by austerity measures and bleak investment. 1/5th of the country's graduates have emigrated and Senegal is said to have better retaining rates.

Source: OECD

#14 Poland

Youth unemployment 2009: 20.7%

Youth unemployment 2002: 43.9%

Background: Poland's youth unemployment has dropped significantly in the last decade and though it managed to avoid the fallout of the recession for the most part, its youth unemployment has started climbing upwards again. In 2010, the rate moved to 23%. Low investment and a surge in people returning to the country after living and working abroad is driving up the rate.

Source: OECD

#13 Finland

Youth unemployment 2009: 21.6%

Youth unemployment 2002: 19.5%

Background: Finland's youth unemployment rate is being driven up in towns that are largely dependent on one industry for jobs. With the surprise results of the Finnish election, youth unemployment rates could drop if the True Finns have their way.

Source: OECD

#12 Belgium

Youth unemployment 2009: 21.9%

Youth unemployment 2002: 17.7%

Background: Belgian business confidence dropped more than expected in April and its economic recovery has been slower than expected. The country however has deeper, long-term issues to tackle since it has had double digit youth unemployment since 2002.

Source: OECD

#11 Chile

Youth unemployment 2009: 22.6%

Youth unemployment 2002: 21.6%

Background: Chile's economy is projected to grow as much as 6.5% this year and its unemployment rate for adults has fallen, but its youth unemployment continues to be high. This is part of a broader historical trend, where youth unemployment is usually three times higher than the adult rate.

Source: OECD

#10 France

Youth unemployment 2009: 22.8%

Youth unemployment 2002: 20.2%

Background: In 2010, one in four French youth was unemployed. 2012 presidential hopefuls have vowed to make youth unemployment a major focus if they come to power but weak voter turnout by the youth has reflected their disillusionment with politicians and any hope of change.

Source: OECD

#9 Sweden

Youth unemployment 2009: 25%

Youth unemployment 2002: 12.9%

Background: Sweden has the highest youth unemployment rate amongst Nordic countries and is said to have reached 29% in 2010. Youth unemployment has gotten worse since the recession but rates were always high.

Source: OECD

#8 Turkey

Youth unemployment 2009: 25.3%

Youth unemployment 2002: 19.2%

Background: Turkey's 30% youth employed-to-youth population ratio is lower than the global ratio of about 45%. Its working-age population is increasing faster than the rate of employment growth. To add to that, youth dropping out of the agricultural sector need to upgrade their skills to find employment, according to the ILO.

Source: OECD

#7 Italy

Youth unemployment 2009: 25.4%

Youth unemployment 2002: 26.3%

Background: Italy's overwhelming public debt and austerity measures have ensured that there aren't enough jobs being created for the youth in the public sector. In the private sector, the country doesn't have enough big players creating work either. What's more worrying? 1/5th of Italy's population between the ages of 15 - 29 aren't even seeking further education.

Source: OECD

#6 Greece

Youth unemployment 2009: 25.8%

Youth unemployment 2002: 26.8%

Background: In November 2010, youth unemployment rates were reported to be as high as 35.6%. Like many other debt ridden countries in the EU, the Greek youth that do have job's are also largely under-employed. A recent survey published by Greek newspaper To Vima showed that four out of 10 Greek college graduates between the ages of 22 and 35 were looking for jobs abroad.

Source: OECD

#5 Ireland

Youth unemployment 2009: 25.9%

Youth unemployment 2002: 9.3%

Background: Unlike Italy and Greece which have had consistently high youth unemployment rates, Ireland's jumped after the collapse of its property market and the global recession. A new report has found that 30,000 people under the age of 25 emigrated in 2009, compared with 15,000 in 2004.

Source: OECD

#4 Hungary

Youth unemployment 2009: 26.5%

Youth unemployment 2002: 12.6%

Background: Hungary's austerity measures have made its government unpopular with many but the prime minster has promised to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Though the government expects a 1% increase in the nation's employment rate in 2011, it is unclear whether this will benefit the youth.

Source: OECD

#3 Slovak Republic

Youth unemployment 2009: 27.3%

Youth unemployment 2002: 37.4%

Background: Slovakia needs to create more jobs in the services sector and reduce citizen's dependence on social subsistence to drive down rates of youth unemployment.

Source: OECD

#2 Estonia

Youth unemployment 2009: 27.5%

Youth unemployment 2002: 17.6%

Background: Estonia's youth unemployment rates are being pushed higher because a larger number of young people are seeking jobs than before. In 2004, 48,000 young people between the ages of 20 and 24 were entering the job market. That number has gone up to 54,500 in 2011. With Estonia's GDP picking up however, the benefits are expected to trickle down to the youth.

Source: OECD

#1 Spain

Youth unemployment 2009: 37.9%

Youth unemployment 2002: 22.2%

Background: 43% of Spain's youth were said to be unemployed in 2010, and the country may lose a generation of educated youth to emigration. This is likely to have a long-term impact on Spain's economy since fewer international companies in need of an educated workforce would move here.

Source: OECD

BONUS - USA

Youth unemployment 2009: 17.6%

Youth unemployment 2002: 12%

Background: Youth unemployment in America jumped after the recession and while rates are twice the national average, those for African-American youth between 16-24 are as high as 34%. Asian and Latino youth unemployment rates are also higher than average rates.

Source: OECD

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