Over the last five years EU 28 average 1st quarter unemployment was 12% higher than that of the 3rd quarter.
Seasonal fluctuations in the labour market, particularly in the construction and tourism sectors, are common in many European countries. The degree of such in each individual member state is not only dependent on seasonal weather conditions, rather also interlinked with other outline conditions such as statutory regulations and regulations under collective agreements, corporate practice, and also on the mobility and proportion of the foreign workforce in a particular member state. Availability of sufficient workforce numbers, primarily during seasonal peaks, not only represents specific challenges to many employers but also members of the Public Employment Services network.
Increased workforce mobility, enhanced through reinforcement of collaboration between member states of the PES network in intra-European referral of skilled labour, could represent an opportunity to better address seasonal peaks in winter and summer tourism as well as the demand for skilled labour in the construction sector. Individual PES organisations have already started intensifying their collaborative efforts and with over 14,000 employers now using our EURES Job Mobility Portal & over 3.3 m vacancies advertised, EURES also helps bridging the gap in the labour market in Europe.
In the European Union the annually determined unemployment levels in the 1st and the 3rd quarters differed on average by around 12% over the last five years, accompanied by simultaneously decreasing unemployment numbers. (Unemployment in the 1st quarter of 2018 compared with the 1st quarter of 2014 reduced by 31%, and by 32% when comparing the figures for the two third quarters.) We decided not to include a representation of seasonal effects on an individual country level as the individual results could hardly be reasonably and sensibly interpreted. A major cause of the partially enormous differences may result from the varying outline conditions.
In some countries the confirmation of seasonal placement (within three months) is common practice, whereby these persons are counted as unemployed and the number of unemployed is therefore higher than in those countries where persons have indeed a confirmation of re-employment, but commencement of such employment lies however more than three months in the future (e.g. for the next summer season). In this context many of those currently not employed are deemed according to the EUROSTAT statistics as inactive persons. Additionally data collection at the place of residence distorts the results across the individual countries, in particular due to unemployment of mobile seasonal workers in the European Union.
A glance at the employment statistics
A glance at employment development in the EU 28 member states currently also shows clear slumps in the 1st quarter and peaks in the 3rd quarter of each year, driven by the seasonal sectors of construction and tourism.
In all other economic sectors these seasonal effects are not noticeable at all, respectively not to such an extent.
Strong and growing importance of the construction and tourism sectors
Across the annual average of 2018, 11% of employed persons in the European Union were working in the construction and tourism sectors. The tourism sector, with a plus of 15% of employed persons (aged between 15 and 64), was seen as the relatively most strongly growing sector since 2014, whereas in comparison the number of persons employed in the construction sector increased by 6%. These two seasonal sectors accounted in total for 16% of total employment increase across the EU.