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EU workforce forecast to peak in 2010


EUBusiness our sister site covering developments in the EU zone provided the following article on changes in the European workforce

A new report looking at future trends for the European Union’s labour force to 2050 forecasts that, if demographic and employment trends continue at current rates, the EU’s work-force will grow from 169 million in 1995 to around 183 million by 2010. After this, the report predicts the workforce rate will start to tail-off dropping to 154 million by 2050 – the same level as in 1985.

According to the report by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm, up to 2010, few European regions are expected to face a decrease of their labour force. However, based on current trends, the survey says around 80% of the 202 regions studied will experience a drop between 2010-2025. As a result, it predicts the dependency ratio – measured by the number of inactive people divided by the active population – should start to rise in a large majority of the regions by around 2010.

Labour force change is described in the study as the combined result of growth in the working age population and change in labour force participation rate. From 2010, the report shows the passing of the first large post-war ‘baby-boom’ generations over the age of 65 will initiate a long period of decline in the working age population. However, it says this decline will be partially offset by rising participation rates among young adults, women and people in the 55-64 age group.

At national level, says Eurostat, the active population in all member states will rise between 1995-2010. Most of these countries are then forecasts to experience a decline over the 2010-2025 period, with the exception of Ireland where the labour force should stay at the same level, Portugal (+1.0% over the period), Sweden (+1,3%) and Luxembourg (+4.6%). The sharpest fall over the 2010-2025 period is expected to be recorded in Italy (-7.5%), Germany and Spain (-6.6% for both).

At regional level, between 1995-2010, 17 on the 202 regions studied should register a slight decline of their labour force. These are mainly cited as regions in Eastern Germany, Northern Italy and Sweden. In all other regions, the active population is expected to rise during this period.

For example rises above 20% are expected in the following 12 regions: Lüneburg (Germany), Sterea Ellada (Greece), Ceuta y Melilla, Canarias (Spain), Languedoc-Roussillon (France), Ireland, Molise (Italy), Flevoland (Netherlands), Açores, Madeira (Portugal), Lincolnshire, Grampian (United Kingdom).

Over the 2010-2025 period, the study forecasts 155 regions will face a decline of their active population. The highest drops are forecast in Germany (in particular Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:-21.0%, Magdeburg:-19.4%), in Spain (Pais Vasco:-21,4%, La Rioja:-18.3%) and in Italy (Liguria:-15.7%, Piemonte:-14.3%). In contrast, the labour force is expected to continue to grow in some “atypical” EU regions such as Flevoland (Netherlands), Açores and Madeira (Portugal) and Ceuta y Melilla (Espagne).

The report also highlights the pressure put upon the labour force by the non working population over the period 1995-2050, and presents projections on the major changes in labour force composition at regional level to 2025. These include the increased participation of females in the workforce almost everywhere in the EU, the growing number of older workers (aged 50 years and over) in the labour force, as well as the rising importance of part-time working.

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