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Although the European Union is in the midst of an economic recovery, long-term unemployment – joblessness and job-seeking that lasts at least a year – (1) stubbornly high in many of the countries that were hardest hit by the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposals for addressing the problem are in many cases (2) .
Europe needs far more (3) labor-market policies to spur job creation and reduce long-term unemployment, which can be particularly (4) for society. As we have seen, unemployment has been an important factor in the rise of populist parties that are now threatening social (5) , democracy, and the rule of law in Europe.
According to Eurostat, the statistical arm of the European Commission, ten million people across the EU’s 28 member states were suffering from long-term unemployment in 2016. Of these, around eight million are in the eurozone, and more than a quarter are 50 and over.
For young people, a university education or (6) training can insure against long-term unemployment, at least when sufficient jobs are available. But for people who are 50 or older, the termination of a work contract all too often leads to (7) joblessness. For example, among unemployed Europeans 50 and over, 60.3% have been unemployed for more than a year; but for all unemployed Europeans of working age, that number falls significantly, to 46.6%.
Behind these statistics are individual stories of personal tragedy, self-doubt, (8) , and lost faith in society. Consider the case of a 53-year-old chief IT officer with a doctorate who was laid off from a medium-size Austrian company. While unemployed, he sent out hundreds of job applications. But on the few (9) when he was called in for an interview, employers first told him he was “too expensive” or “overqualified.”
Discrimination based on age, though illegal in the EU, is a routine (10) . The fact is that the labor market does not work properly for prospective workers at the end of their prime years. But that needs to change if we are going to restore trust in our political system. Those who are willing and able to work deserve support so that they do not end up permanently excluded from opportunities to do so.
- 1) endure
- 1) depart
- 1) infirm
- 1) customary
- 1) cohesion
- 1) decrepit
- 1) brittle
- 1) outcome
- 1) summarize
- 1) continual