3.1. Employment and unemployment

Total and female employment rates in the Basque Country are below the European average

As regards the indicators related to employment rates, we see a slight upturn in the total employment rate in the last year. However, as this was smaller than in other regions, the Basque Country lost positions in the ranking for this indicator compared with all territories. The female employment rate is also sluggish (with lower values than the general employment rate), losing positions in comparison with European regions as a whole. As a result of this, the Basque Country is in a medium-to-low position when compared with European regions as a whole, and trailing behind in comparison with the reference regions, although better positioned within Spain as a whole. As the trend graphs show, the results for the last year seem to break with the trend in previous years, in which there had been an increase in these indicators, which, having fallen below the European average starting in 2012, were approaching that level. In comparison with the reference regions, we can see that both the total and female employment rates for the Basque Country remain consistently below the European average. There is therefore some potential for an increase in employment which may reach that of other territories, especially in the case of female employment.

Despite the significant reduction, unemployment in the Basque Country is still higher than in the whole of Europe and the reference regions

Raising employment depends on both increasing the labour force participation rate and employing the people who take part in the labour market. For this reason, it is of interest to analyse what is happening with unemployment rates. We present both the total unemployment rate and that which affects the youngest group of people, between the ages of 15 and 24 (which is more than double that of the population as a whole). Both improved in the last year in both absolute and relative terms, and the Basque Country remains among the autonomous communities with the lowest unemployment levels. Despite this, the Basque Country’s position in the European rankings is still worse than in the case of employment indicators, indicating that the percentage of people who form part of the working population is greater but they are not obtaining work. This is due to the increase in unemployment rates that occurred until the year 2013, and which has been dropping since then. However, it has not achieved the levels of the European average and the reference regions, which are very similar. In these territories, although they have much lower levels, youth job creation also represents a challenge, as the youth unemployment rate (around 16%) is also double that of the population as a whole.