Shadow unemployment: the gaps in the statistics

It’s five to twelve: Employment Agency in Hamburg
Image: dpa

Much more people than the official quota shows have nothing to do at the moment. This also applies to Germany, where many people had to go on short-time work.

Kcan that really be? The economy is plunging into the deepest recession in a long time because of Corona – but the officially recorded unemployment is rising only a little, almost at a snail’s pace? According to the Eurostat statistics office, the unemployment rate in the euro zone was 7.2 percent in March, but the latest figures for July mean that it has increased to 7.9 percent. According to these statistics, only around one million more people have been on the streets since March, a total of 12.8 million. But these numbers only show part of the truth. At the same time, millions of people have been forced to reduce their jobs to short-time work; others have lost their jobs but do not appear in the official statistics as unemployed.

Economists at the major Swiss bank UBS have therefore carried out a calculation of “shadow unemployment”. Their result: In the spring quarter, actual unemployment in the euro zone was 20 percent and now, in the third quarter, it is probably 15 percent. That is twice as much as in the Eurostat figures. In Spain, UBS economist Anna Titareva suspects that despite the recent decline in short-time work, there are still well over 20 percent non-working people, in Italy almost 20 percent, in France around 13 percent and in Germany around 12 percent.