In Austria, several organizations use the day before Labor Day to “celebrate” the “Day of the Unemployed”. At times of crisis, this day is more important than ever as Europe is threatening its fragile recovery through its austerity politics.
So, it was no surprise when the International Labor Organization (ILO) yesterday stated that high unemployment rates are the most negative and dangerous effect of the economic crisis in many European countries: “Fiscal austerity and tough labour market reforms (…) are having devastating consequences on labour markets in general and job creation in particular. They have also mostly failed to reduce fiscal deficits. The narrow focus of many Eurozone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe.”
Two effects of this development are of particular importance: the increase in inequality in our society and the increase of youth unemployment. While Austria still has one of the lowest unemployment figures within Europe, youth unemployment has increase in four out of five industrial countries and two out of three developing countries!
In countries such as Spain or Greece, a whole generation of young people is facing an uncertain future: 50% youth unemployment mean that a majority of young people can’t enter the job market, can’t earn their own money, faces financial problems, probably also faces health problems due to unaffordable health care, don’t feel as full members of society and can only dream of a financially safe future.
40% of unemployed people in industrial countries have been searching for work for more than a year, in particular young people who more and more robbed of their future with each day of desperately searching for a job. Not to forget all those young people who are not unemployed but who are stuck in precarious, low-paid jobs. It should be mentioned that the number of Working Poor – people who can’t nourish themselves and their families despite having work – is also rising in Austria.
There is no easy solution to this global job crisis. However, the ILO states that “if a job-friendly policy-mix of taxation and increased expenditure in public investment and social benefits is put in place, approximately 2 million jobs could be created over the next year in advanced economies”. Meanwhile, regions such as Upper Austria, where 41.000 people are already working in green jobs, show that these future jobs can be both purposeful and sustainable.