Europe's Most Tragic Graph: Greek Youth Unemployment Hits 55%

Screen Shot 2012-10-01 at 11.34.53 PM.png

In March 2012, Spain and Greece passed an unenviable landmark of 50% youth unemployment. That means there were more Spanish and Greek workers under 25 without a job than with one.

Six months later, it's only gotten worse.

A new report from Eurostat shows that youth unemployment has increased across the European Union since last summer, and in Greece it grew by a continent-record 10 percentage points. Youth unemployment in Spain and Greece is now 55% and 53%, incredibly. Some low-lights from the report are in the graph above, which compares August 2011 to August 2012 (or to June, where August figures were unavailable) in Greece, Spain, Italy, the UK, the EU average, and the United States.

Here's what the graph doesn't tell us: That a majority of Greek and Spanish young people don't have a job. Unemployment is a ratio: Unemployed people / the workforce. If you're in school or not actively looking for a job, you're not counted in the unemployment rate. As a result, the same number of unemployed young people will yield a higher rate with a smaller workforce. A different ratio calculated by the BBC with Eurostat figures -- unemployed youths as a percentage of the whole youth population -- yields a 19% figure for Spain and a 13% figure for Greece.

Here's what the graph does tell us: Young workers in Greece and Spain are facing an absolutely egregious work drought, where half of high-school and college-graduates ready to find a job aren't finding one. And 55% isn't the ceiling. Both economies are shrinking and unemployment is a lagging indicator -- as Americans have learned, the rate can keep going up after an economy technically starts growing. This economic tragedy can easily become a social disaster as young promising people either leave their country to work somewhere else or else turn to illegal or violent activities to protest policies wrecking their economies or lash out against a country that's leaving them behind.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In