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Employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the EU reached a peak at 73.1% in 2019

Europe 2020 employment indicators

17 Member States achieved their 2020 targets

In 2019, the year before COVID-19 containment measures were widely introduced by EU Member States, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union of 27 Member States (EU) stood at 73.1%, up compared with 2018 (72.4%).

The Europe 2020 strategy target is to reach a total employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 of at least 75% in the EU by 2020. This objective has been translated into different national targets in order to reflect the situation and possibilities of each Member State to contribute to the common goal.

An upward trend in the employment rate is visible both for men and women in the period up to 2019. The employment rate for men hit 79.0% in 2019, having increased steadily since 2013. As for women, their employment rate continuously rose since 2010 to reach 67.3% in 2019. Similarly, the employment rate of persons aged 55 to 64 in the EU grew steadily, from 35.0% in 2000 to 59.1% in 2019. The greater participation of older workers is also one of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on employment.

17 Member States achieved their Europe 2020 employment target

Compared with 2018, the employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 increased in 2019 in all Member States with the exception of Sweden, where it fell slightly (-0.3 percentage points, pp), though remaining on a very high level. It grew most strongly in Bulgaria (+2.6 pp), Cyprus (+1.8 pp), Greece and Malta (both +1.7 pp) and Croatia (+ 1.5 pp).

The highest employment rates were recorded in Sweden (82.1%), Germany (80.6%), Czechia (80.3%), Estonia (80.2%) and the Netherlands (80.1%). These five countries also exceeded their national targets for this indicator, as was the case for Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

On the other hand, the lowest employment rate was observed in Greece (61.2%), although it grew over the year (+1.7 pp), followed by Italy (63.5%, +0.5 pp), Croatia (66.7%, +1.5 pp) as well as Spain (68.0%, +1.0 pp). Narrowest gender employment gap in Lithuania, widest in Greece and Malta

Employment rates of men and women, however, varied considerably in many Member States in 2019.

The difference between the employment rate of women and men aged 20 to 64 was lowest in Lithuania (77.4% for women vs. 79.0% for men, or -1.6 pp), Finland (-2.7 pp), Latvia (-3.8 pp) and Sweden (-4.7 pp).

At the opposite end of the scale, the largest difference between the employment rate of women and men was observed in Greece and Malta (both -20.0 pp). Big gaps were also recorded in Italy (-19.6 pp) and Romania (-19.0 pp).

At EU level, the difference between the employment rate of women aged 20 to 64 (67.3%) and that of men aged 20
to 64 (79.0%) was -11.7 pp in 2019.

Employment rate of those aged 55 to 64 at its highest point in the EU

From 35.0% in 2000, the employment rate of people aged 55 to 64 in the EU grew steadily to reach 59.1% in 2019. The growth was stronger for women (from 25.4% in 2000 to 52.6% in 2019) than for men (45.2% in 2000 vs. 66.0% in 2019). As a consequence, the gap between the employment rate of women and men aged 55 to 64 in the EU has been reduced, from a -19.8 pp difference in 2000 to a -13.4 pp difference in 2019.

Over 70% of people aged 55 to 64 have a job in Sweden, Germany, Estonia and Denmark

In 2019, over half of the population aged 55 to 64 were in employment in twenty-one EU Member States. The highest employment rate for this age group was observed in Sweden (77.7%), ahead of Germany (72.7%), Estonia (72.5%) and Denmark (71.3%). On the other hand, the lowest employment rates were registered in Luxembourg (43.1%), Greece (43.2%) and Croatia (43.9%). Compared with 2018, the employment rate for those aged 55 to 64 increased in 2019 in all EU Member States with the exception of Sweden.

Geographical information

The European Union (EU27) includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain,
France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal,
Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.

Data for France, including the Europe 2020 target, exclude the overseas departments.

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Information on dissemination of European statistics from 1 February 2020 is published on the Eurostat website.

In this news release, data are also available for the United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

Methods and definitions

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a large sample survey among private households. LFS data refer to the resident population and therefore LFS results relate to the persons resident in the country irrespective of the country where those persons work.
This difference may be significant in countries with large cross-border flows. For further information, please consult the Eurostat EU-LFS publication.

Annual results presented in this news release are calculated as average of quarterly results.

The employment rate represents employed persons as a percentage of the population in the same age group. Employed
persons are all persons who worked at least one hour for pay or profit during the reference week or were temporarily absent
from such work.

2018 2019 Europe 2020 targets ,(Total)

Total Males Females Total Males Females

EU27* 72.4 78.3 66.5 73.1 79.0 67.3 75.0
EU28 73.2 79.0 67.4 73.9 79.6 68.2 75.0

Belgium 69.7 73.9 65.5 70.5 74.5 66.5 73.2
Bulgaria 72.4 76.5 68.3 75.0 79.3 70.7 76.0
Czechia 79.9 87.4 72.2 80.3 87.7 72.7 75.0
Denmark 77.5 80.9 73.9 78.3 81.9 74.7 80.0
Germany 79.9 83.9 75.8 80.6 84.6 76.6 77.0
Estonia 79.5 83.4 75.6 80.2 84.0 76.3 76.0
Ireland 74.1 80.3 68.1 75.1 81.4 69.0 69.0
Greece 59.5 70.1 49.1 61.2 71.3 51.3 70.0
Spain 67.0 73.1 61.0 68.0 74.0 62.1 74.0
France 71.8 75.7 68.1 72.1 75.6 68.6 75.0
Croatia 65.2 70.3 60.1 66.7 72.0 61.5 62.9
Italy 63.0 72.9 53.1 63.5 73.4 53.8 67.0
Cyprus 73.9 79.3 68.9 75.7 81.7 70.1 75.0
Latvia 76.8 79.0 74.8 77.4 79.3 75.5 73.0
Lithuania 77.8 79.0 76.7 78.2 79.0 77.4 72.8
Luxembourg 72.1 76.0 68.0 72.8 77.2 68.1 73.0
Hungary 74.4 82.1 66.8 75.3 83.1 67.6 75.0
Malta 75.5 86.0 64.1 77.2 86.7 66.7 70.0
Netherlands 79.2 84.3 74.2 80.1 84.8 75.5 80.0
Austria 76.2 80.7 71.7 76.8 81.2 72.4 77.0
Poland 72.2 79.4 65.0 73.0 80.7 65.3 71.0
Portugal 75.4 78.9 72.1 76.1 79.9 72.7 75.0
Romania 69.9 78.9 60.6 70.9 80.3 61.3 70.0
Slovenia 75.4 79.0 71.7 76.4 79.7 72.9 75.0
Slovakia 72.4 79.2 65.5 73.4 79.9 66.9 72.0
Finland 76.3 78.2 74.5 77.2 78.5 75.8 78.0
Sweden 82.4 84.4 80.2 82.1 84.4 79.7 80.0
United Kingdom 78.7 83.7 73.8 79.3 84.0 74.6 –
Iceland 86.5 89.5 83.2 85.9 88.6 83.0 –
Norway 79.2 81.7 76.5 79.5 82.0 76.8 –
Switzerland 82.5 87.0 77.9 82.9 87.3 78.6 –
Montenegro 59.8 66.7 52.9 60.8 67.5 54.2 –
North Macedonia 56.1 66.6 45.2 59.2 69.7 48.4 –
Serbia 63.1 70.5 55.8 65.2 72.1 58.2 –
Turkey 55.6 76.0 35.2 53.8 73.2 34.4 –

  • No national target or not applicable
  • EU27 represents the European Union of 27 Member States after 1 February 2020.

Employment rate of people aged 55 to 64 (%)

2018 2019 Total Males Females Total Males Females

EU27* 57.9 64.8 51.3 59.1 66.0 52.6
EU28 58.7 65.4 52.4 60.0 66.6 53.7

Belgium 50.3 55.1 45.6 52.1 57.3 47.0
Bulgaria 60.7 65.4 56.4 64.4 69.2 59.9
Czechia 65.1 74.0 56.6 66.7 74.7 58.9
Denmark 69.2 73.8 64.6 71.3 75.8 66.9
Germany 71.4 76.1 66.9 72.7 77.1 68.4
Estonia 68.9 65.9 71.5 72.5 69.6 74.9
Ireland 60.4 68.6 52.3 61.8 69.9 53.9
Greece 41.1 53.3 30.0 43.2 56.1 31.6
Spain 52.2 59.7 44.9 53.8 61.1 46.9
France 52.4 54.3 50.6 53.2 55.4 51.1
Croatia 42.8 51.0 35.2 43.9 52.6 35.9
Italy 53.7 64.2 43.9 54.3 64.6 44.6
Cyprus 60.9 70.3 51.9 61.1 72.0 50.7
Latvia 65.4 66.3 64.7 67.3 67.6 67.1
Lithuania 68.5 70.5 66.9 68.4 69.4 67.5
Luxembourg 40.5 45.5 35.2 43.1 48.9 37.1
Hungary 54.4 65.5 44.9 56.7 69.0 46.2
Malta 50.2 67.3 32.8 51.6 66.8 35.9
Netherlands 67.7 76.6 58.8 69.7 78.3 61.2
Austria 54.0 63.5 44.8 54.5 63.1 46.0
Poland 48.9 59.8 39.1 49.5 61.0 39.2
Portugal 59.2 64.5 54.6 60.4 66.5 55.1
Romania 46.3 57.9 35.7 47.8 60.1 36.5
Slovenia 47.0 52.2 41.9 48.6 53.2 44.0
Slovakia 54.2 58.4 50.4 57.0 60.3 53.9
Finland 65.4 64.3 66.5 66.8 64.8 68.6
Sweden 78.0 80.4 75.7 77.7 79.8 75.6
United Kingdom 65.3 70.3 60.6 66.3 70.9 61.9
Iceland 80.7 86.0 75.4 81.2 86.9 75.4
Norway 72.0 76.1 67.9 72.8 76.8 68.7
Switzerland 72.6 79.1 66.1 73.0 79.4 66.6
Montenegro 46.6 55.8 37.9 50.1 59.8 40.9
North Macedonia 42.7 56.8 28.8 45.1 60.1 30.3
Serbia 46.5 57.2 36.7 50.2 60.8 40.5
Turkey35.351.319.733.648.818.8

  • EU27 represents the European Union of 27 Member States after 1 February 2020

Romina BRONDINO Hannah KIIVER