Getting the facts straight on youth unemployment rates

Old mistake in today’s article on European responses to austerity measures – here, as reported by Karen Kissane in The Age in Melbourne:

Meanwhile, in Greece, a country spiralling into poverty with more than half of its young people unemployed,


This seems to be a common misinterpretation. A Reuters report led with the headline:

Over half of Greek youth unemployed

A BBC report stated:

More than half of young people in Greece are unemployed …

Well. no, actually.  Unemployment rates are the percentage of those available for and looking for work who are unemployed.  Since a large proportion of young people are engaged in full time study, the proportion of the population who are unemployed is much less.

According to the European Commission’s Eurostat page “Statistics explained” on unemployment statistiscs, Greece’s youth unemployment rate has gone up from 25.7% in 2009 to 44.4 in 2011 and 49.3 in the last quarter of 2011 – but the ratio – that is, youth unemployed as a percentage of the youth population has only increased from 8% in 2009 to 13% in 2011.  Still a tragedy for those affected, but very different to the picture painted.

Discussions about public policy need to be based in accurate representation of the situation. This is a basic mistake that should not be made.

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