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UK has a relatively high rate of joblessness by EU standards, says the CIPD

Although unemployment has risen by far less than expected in the past year, joblessness in the UK is deemed relatively high by European Union (EU) standards, according to a CIPD analysis.

According to the CIPD, the UK is no better than a ‘mid-table' performer in the EU league of measured unemployment while also having a relatively high rate of ‘hidden joblessness'.

The CIPD's analysis of Eurostat figures - which provide comparable statistics for all 27 EU member states for the period to the third quarter of 2009 - shows while the UK unemployment rate (8% in Q3 2009) is below the EU average (8.9%), of the other 26 EU member states 13 have higher unemployment rates and 13 lower unemployment rates

UK performance is particularly poor in relation to male unemployment (9.1% in Q3 2009) with only eight EU member states with higher male unemployment rates (Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal and Slovakia). But the situation is exactly the reverse in relation to female unemployment with only eight EU member states having lower female unemployment rates than the UK (6.7% in Q3 2009)

The UK does relatively well when it comes to tackling long-term unemployment, with only eight EU member states having lower proportions of long-term unemployment (of more than 12 months duration) in total unemployment, indicating the beneficial impact of the UK's approach to welfare to work policy

But the UK also has a relatively high rate of what the CIPD defines as ‘hidden joblessness' (5.9% in Q3 2009) - derived from the Eurostat measure of people of working age who are economically inactive (that is, not active in the jobs market) but willing to work. According to Eurostat, only five EU member states have higher rates of hidden joblessness than the UK (Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Austria and Poland). Overall, the UK accounts for one in seven of Europe's entire hidden jobless population.    

John Philpott, the CIPD's chief economic adviser, said: "The UK may draw comfort from having lower measured unemployment than the EU average but in truth we are no better than a mid-table performer in the EU jobless league. Taking ‘hidden joblessness' into account makes the UK's relative performance look less impressive still, and once again highlights the scale of the macroeconomic and employment policy challenge that awaits us in the next few years."