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A feature characteristic for any national economy, including its job market, is that it fluctuates. From innovation that powers the creation of completely new sectors to dynamic development of local industries, as well as wider cultural transformations – all those factors cause deep changes in the social fabric in relation to professional choices made by the society. A recent study from AMP and the National Center for Social and Economic Modeling at the University of Canberra offers a host of interesting insights into the Australian job market as compared with other markets, including the EU. Here’s the gist of the report that paints a very clear picture of the multiple differences between the job markets of the EU countries and Australia.


Unemployment in the EU and Australia


The report announced that Australia is located in the top 10 OECD countries when it comes to low employment – in June 2014, only 6% of Australians were estimated to be unemployed. Needless to say, it’s the EU countries that make up for the latter part of the list. Starting from Slovenia, at 10.1% of unemployment rate, the list moves down to embrace countries like Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and, finally, Greece – with a terrible rate of 27.3% of unemployment rate (today this figure is probably even higher).


Why is Europe suffering from such high unemployment rates? The reasons behind the situation portrayed in the report and today’s reality are multiple and varied. On a general level, high unemployment rates in the EU derive mostly from the recession starting from the crisis of 2008, but also because of the ongoing European Sovereign Debt Crisis.


Then there are of course the different national situations to consider – Spain, Greece and Italy are all characterized by high unemployment rates, but the reasons behind their economic problems are radically different and nation-specific.


Workforce size in the EU and Australia


How about the employed people? This is where Australia ranks high as well. With an impressive 52.9% it goes way above the OECD average, which is 49.9%. Almost 65% of Australian population aged 15 or higher is currently working, with 70% of the workforce employed on a full-time basis, and 30% working part time.


This proportion is a good indicator of the general health of a job market and given this figure, Australia seems to be doing really fine. How about the EU? The only European countries to reach and outgrow the mean of 49.9% are Norway, Czech Republic, Austria, Estonia, Germany, Portugal and the UK.


Contract varieties


How about the variation of job contracts noted in both the EU and Australia? Interestingly, Australia is characterized by a very low percentage of professionals working on temporary contracts – a mere 5.9%. Compared to European countries, this figure makes quite an impression.


In fact, there are only two EU nations that boast a lower proportion of temporary employment – Latvia and Estonia. Some EU countries, most notably Poland, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden go above the mean for the OECD countries, which in 2012 was 13%. Today, we can easily expect this figure to be even higher.


All in all, these comparisons indicate that the Australian job market ( is much stronger than the general employment situation in the EU. In Australia, employers don’t need to cut back on permanent employment as much as the ones located in other OECD countries – especially in the EU, where national and transnational economic crises hurt local job markets, producing swarms of qualified workers who cannot find suitable employment opportunities and consequently settle for jobs on temporary contracts or emigrate from their countries in search for a better future.

Author :
EurActiv Network