Europe can’t afford to lose another generation to youth unemployment
Covid-19 has already put 3 million young Europeans out of work. The scars for these under-25s could take a decade to heal
A decade ago, the global financial crisis left deep scars in terms of destroyed opportunities and unemployment for young people. In Europe in particular, youth unemployment persisted. Now the Covid-19 crisis threatens to do the same thing to the under-25s. Yet, none of the leaders of France, Italy or Spain, nor the president of the European commission, prioritised youth unemployment in their latest policy speeches. At the highest political level, the focus must be on averting the risk of a lost generation. Bold policies will be needed.
During the financial crisis, the US youth unemployment rate increased from about 10% to 19%, while in the European Union it increased from 16% to 26%. The rate in the EU only returned to its 2008 level in 2018, while the spike in US youth unemployment was overcome more rapidly. Even in the recovery, some EU countries fared much worse than the EU average. In Greece, Spain and Italy, youth unemployment in 2019 was still higher than it was before the 2008 crash.