Latest figures from the European Union’s statistical agency show that jobless people continue to be 8.7 per cent by December 2017. This is the lowest level of unemployment for the Union since January 2009.

On an annual basis, the unemployment rate in December 2017 has fallen in almost all 28 EU Member States, except in Finland, where it has remained unchanged.

According to Eurostat, the unemployed in the EU in December 2017 decreased by 165,000 compared to November and by 2.06 million compared to the same month in 2016 (to 18.9 million). The unemployment rate of the EU is down by 0.9% on an annual basis (to 7.3%). As for the euro-area, unemployment also remains stable at 8.7 percent in December compared to previous month.

The lowest unemployment rate in December 2017 was registered in the Czech Republic (2.3%), followed by Germany (3.6%) and Malta (3.6%). In particular, companies in the Czech Republic are even struggling to find workforce. That is why Prague is looking for new ways in its efforts to help companies that fail to find workers, including raising minimum wages and increasing quotas for foreign employees. Last year, the quota for such permits was 9600, compared to 3816 in 2016.

Most of them are benefit mainly for the Ukrainians, who are currently the largest foreign community, followed by the Slovaks and the Vietnamese.

Particularly positive are the results in southern Europe, where Spain, Portugal and Croatia report a significant improvement in the fight against unemployment. Each of the three countries has more than 2% improvement in its employment rate than the previous year. Specifically, in Portugal unemployment is at its lowest level for the past 13 years.

Eurostat data are also positive for Bulgaria, where unemployment in December 2017 dropped to 6.1%. The good news is that Bulgaria is one of the 15 EU Member States with lower unemployment rate than the EU average.

Since the Employment Chapter was incorporated in 1997 in the Treaty on European Union, labor market statistics have become the basis of a number of EU policies. The employment rate or the share of working-age population is considered to be a key social indicator serving to analyze the development of labor markets.

Special attention is paid to youth unemployment, where the European Union has negotiated instruments such as the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative in order to support young people in finding a job. In July 2013, the EU also launched a European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) to improve the quality of practical training in Europe.