Youth unemployment and geographic mobility in the EU

EUKN, 2013


The current recession has increased unemployment levels in the EU Member States. Young people are hit hardest: one out of three young people in the EU is currently unemployed while the unemployment rates are rising rapidly. The increasing numbers of unemployed people negatively affect social cohesion. Furthermore, the economic crisis has reinforced not only economic but also demographic disparities between and within European regions. These disparities occur more strongly in cities. Cities attract both talent from the surrounding region and from abroad, but also accommodate large groups who cannot keep up with the knowledge economy. The growing youth unemployment due to the crisis confronts cities with major challenges. In this regard, tackling youth unemployment is high on the urban agenda.

This paper aims to foster discussion on the challenges and opportunities of local and national governments in developing policies to improve the employment opportunities. The paper outlines relevant EU policies; presents data and characteristics of the youth unemployment situation in the EU; and discusses how governments can create favourable conditions for geographic youth mobility by taking account of both the interests of migrants and the regions of origin and departure.

The key finding of the paper is the integrated approach to tackle youth unemployment. Urban prosperity is closely linked to the quality of human capital. Cities have the capacity to help immigrants adapt quickly to new demands and circumstances.

Finally, the paper discusses the perspective of cities and local governments in attracting and developing human capital. The paper concludes with an overview of the policy-relevant conclusions, questions and implications.