Old Continent Apart
The main European countries are almost all in recession. The Euro area, which comprises of 27 countries had GDP (gross domestic product) below zero in the last quarter, down -0.1%. From Germany to the UK via France, Italy and Spain, all are at a greater or lesser degree of recession. The economy has stagnated in whole or in part. Germany had a GDP of -0.5% in the third quarter of this year, the second consecutive drop in the previous quarter was -0.4%. Exports also fell by 8%, in the whole of Europe, between August and September this year.
In Spain, unemployment is over 12% of the economically active population, 2.6 million unemployed. This unemployment rate is the largest in Europe, which has an average of 7.5%. 1250 workers are fired everyday in the country. Most of this is in the construction industry, which has been responsible for employing 20% of the workforce in Spain. Of the total jobs created in 2007, 80% no longer exist. According to a spokesman for the Spanish government, “This data is very worrying. Even if we continue to create jobs, there is no way to absorb the growing labor force” (BBC, 20/11/2008).
In France, car maker Peugeot Citroën announced the layoff of 3,550 workers due to sharp drop in sales. Several other plants also threaten to resign and many are paralyzed with the activities.
In the UK the unemployment rate is the highest in 11 years. Between July and September, the unemployed in Britain amounted to 1.82 million people; estimates for 2009 are 2.5 million unemployed. In the last quarter the increase was from 5.4% to 5.8% and laid off more than 140 000.
Elsewhere in Europe, Italy, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Ireland are also in recession.