Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Identification of Employment Increasing Possibilities in the Context of the Eu Socioeconomic Environment Evaluation: The Case of Lithuania

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Identification of Employment Increasing Possibilities in the Context of the Eu Socioeconomic Environment Evaluation: The Case of Lithuania

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the fundamental objectives of the EU strategy "Europe 2020" is full employment and social cohesion (Europe 2020..., 2010). Employment growth prospects, on the one hand, depend on the EU's ability to promote economic growth and efficiency through macroeconomic policies and, on the other hand, it must be accompanied by appropriate microeconomic structural policies designed to foster the conditions for employment - increasing the number of jobs and creating new jobs, facilitating the transition to another job, providing labour supply, corresponding to the growing labour market demand. Employment policy should not only help the economy to recover in the short term, but also to ensure necessary social investments in a longer term, which will enable increased budget revenues.

In fulfilling these objectives it is planned to reach 75% employment among the persons aged 20-64 by 2020 and to reduce the number of those living in poverty and socially marginalized people by at least 20 million. To achieve this objective, the EU needs to create additional 17.6 million job places. It should be noted that employment targets set by the Member States up to 2020 range from 59% and 62.9% respectively in Croatia and Malta to 72.8% in Lithuania and 80% in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Unfortunately, the economic crisis started in 2008, the employment rate fell to 68.9% in 2011 and unemployment exceeded 10.0% in 2012. The crisis has affected the Member States to varying extents and not with the same intensity, therefore, it also increased disparities between the Member States. There is a clear increase in the Member States' activity results gap and regional disparities.

Increases in the numbers of people facing poverty and social exclusion clearly illustrates the negative consequences from the slowing down of the EU's economic growth. In 2013, 122.6 million people, or 24.5% of the population, in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that these people were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity1.

In 2013, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in five Member States: Bulgaria (48.0%), Romania (40.4%), Greece (35.7%), Latvia (35.1%) and Hungary (33.5%). In Lithuania, this rate also remains high and is significantly above the EU average. The mentioned indicator in this country increased from 27.6% in 2008 to 30.8% in 2013, i.e., about a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Thus, unemployment, poverty, and social exclusion have become the most acute problems in the economy in Lithuania, as well as across the EU.

Moreover, stronger economy and faster economic growth rates create favorable conditions in the country to achieve higher standards of living, reduce poverty and social exclusion, but economic changes as such, taken alone have no significant positive impact on social well-being and material poverty reduction. To achieve this, efficient and well-targeted resource allocation is required so that to solve the social problems of the country. E.g., the Eurostat data shows that the share of persons severely materially deprived in the EU-28 has decreased during 2008-2010, at the same time, this indicator significantly increased in Lithuania. In the EU-28 as of 2013, severe material deprivation tortured 9.6% of the population. This indicator is still higher in Lithuania, reaching 16.0%.

The article aims to carry out a systematic comparative analysis of socioeconomic indicators in the EU countries, to analyze the EU strategic documents, studies on topical employment issues, and to identify the most suitable scenarios for their implementation and measures to be taken in relation to the labour market of the country.

The research methodology includes assessment of global and EU strategic documents, the European Commission (committees') documentation as well as studies on employment carried out by individual working groups, highlighting the most relevant scenarios of their implementation under the conditions of Lithuanian labour market development. …

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