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In 2018, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union (EU) stood at 73.2%, up compared with 2017 (72.2%). 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, releases Eurostat.

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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.

The upward trend in the employment rate is visible both for men and women. The employment rate for men hit 79.0% in 2018, and has increased steadily since 2013.

As for women, their employment rate has continuously risen since 2010 to reach 67.4% in 2018. Similarly, the employment rate of persons aged 55 to 64 in the EU has grown steadily, from 38.4% in 2002 to 58.7% in 2018. The greater participation of older workers is also one of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on employment. This information comes from the 2018 results of the European Labour Force Survey.

13 Member States already achieved their Europe 2020 employment target

Compared with 2017, the employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 increased in 2018 in all Member States without exception.

It grew most strongly in Cyprus (+3.1 percentage points, pp), Finland (+2.1 pp), Latvia, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia (all +2.0 pp). Employment rates above 75% were recorded in Sweden (82.6%), Czechia and Germany (both 79.9%), Estonia (79.5%), the Netherlands (79.2%), the United Kingdom (78.7%), Denmark (78.2%), Lithuania (77.8%), Latvia (76.8%), Finland (76.3%), Austria (76.2%), Portugal and Slovenia (both 75.4%). Among these Member States, Czechia, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden have already met or exceeded their 2020 national targets for this indicator in 2018, as have Ireland, Croatia, Malta, Poland and Slovakia.

On the other hand, the lowest employment rate was observed in Greece (59.5%), although it grew over the year (+1.7 pp), followed by Italy (63.0%, +0.7 pp), Croatia (65.2%, +1.6 pp) as well as Spain (67.0%, +1.5 pp).

Narrowest gender employment gap in Lithuania, widest in Malta

Employment rates of men and women continued however to vary considerably in many Member States in 2018. The difference between the employment rate of women and that of men aged 20 to 64 was lowest in Lithuania (76.7% for women vs. 79.0% for men, or -2.3 pp), Finland (-3.7 pp), Latvia (-4.2 pp) and Sweden (-4.3 pp). At the opposite end of the scale, the largest difference between the employment rate of women and that of men was observed in Malta (63.4% for women vs. 85.7% for men, or -22.3 pp).

Big gaps were also recorded in Greece (-21.0 pp) and Italy (-19.8 pp). At EU level, the difference between the employment rate of women aged 20 to 64 (67.4%) and that of men aged 20 to 64 (79.0%) was -11.6 pp in 2018.

Employment rate of those aged 55 to 64 at its highest point in the EU From 38.4% in 2002, the employment rate of people aged 55 to 64 in the EU has grown steadily to reach 58.7% in 2018. The growth was stronger for women (from 29.1% in 2002 to 52.4% in 2018) than for men (48.2% in 2002 vs. 65.4% in 2018). 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 -19.1 pp difference in 2002 to a -13.0 pp difference in 2018.

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

In 2018, over half of the population aged 55 to 64 was in employment in twenty-one EU Member States.

The highest employment rate for this age group was observed in Sweden (77.9%), ahead of Germany (71.4%), Denmark (70.7%), Estonia (68.9%), Lithuania (68.5%) and the Netherlands (67.7%). On the other hand, the lowest employment rates were registered in Luxembourg (40.5%), Greece (41.1%) and Croatia (42.8%). Compared with 2017, the employment rate for those aged 55 to 64 increased in 2018 in all EU Member States.

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