Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment : Number of Poor Workers Increasing

Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment : Number of Poor Workers Increasing

Article excerpt

Poverty is not just limited to the unemployed because, in 2007, 8% of workers were considered poor. Despite this reality, only six countries - Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom - have made this issue a political priority. In order to analyse this often neglected part of society, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Eurofound, compiled available data in the 27 EU member states and Norway. Despite the limited number of national data (only eight countries have specific surveys on this subject), it published, on 6 April, a survey outlining the main conclusions: the number of poor workers is on the increase in the majority of European countries and the crisis has not helped matters. Poor workers are those who are employed (ie who work for at least six months of the year) but exposed to the risk of poverty despite their income (ie an income less than 60% of the national average income).

AT-RISK GROUPS

The number of poor workers has increased in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. In six countries, this number has decreased (Estonia, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden) and in five others (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Norway) it has remained more or less stable over recent years.

The typical poor worker is a young Southern European male, with a low level of education. According to official statistics, the risk of becoming a poor worker is higher in Southern European countries, such as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, as well as in some new member states, including Poland and the Baltic countries. A higher risk can also be found in Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. The young are unquestionably the most fragile group. …

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