EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

European Jobs Monitor

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About the EJM

The European Jobs Monitor [EJM] tracks structural change in European labour markets. It analyses shifts in the employment structure in the EU in terms of occupation and sector and gives a qualitative assessment of these shifts using various proxies of job quality – wages, skill-levels, etc. The EJM covers all 28 EU Member States and is based primarily on analysis of European Labour Force survey data.

The EJM methodology is adapted from the pioneering work of Joseph Stiglitz and Erik Olin Wright / Rachel Dwyer in the USA in the 1990s. Jobs, classified by sector and occupation, are ranked according to mean hourly wage; this classification is then used to study on a continuous basis the changes in the structure of employment in different countries, as well as at aggregate EU level.

Latest findings

The latest EJM annual report 2017: Occupational change and wage inequality - published in June 2017 – discusses the role that occupations play in structuring European wage inequality, and the extent to which observed patterns of job polarisation and upgrading have contributed to wage inequality trends. One main conclusion is that occupational dynamics did not drive wage inequality developments in the last decade; within-occupation wage changes were a much bigger factor contributing to overall wage inequality than wage changes - or employment shifts - across occupations.

The report also provides a descriptive summary of employment shifts by job-wage quintile for the EU28 in the period 2011-16. Some of the report’s main conclusions:

  • Labour market recovery in the EU strengthens: There were eight million more people at work in 2016 Q2 in the EU compared with three years previously. Employment growth since 2013 has been only modestly skewed towards well-paid jobs. There has been robust growth in low-paid and mid-paid jobs as well, consistent with a consumption-led recovery. 
  • Strongest growth in well-paid jobs: Over a longer time frame (going back to the late 1990s), higher-paid jobs have continued to grow faster relative to those in the rest of the wage distribution. This has been the case in recessionary and non-recessionary periods alike.
  • Service sector the main locus of growth: More than 7 out of 10 jobs in the EU are now in services, a sector that alone has added over 8 million jobs in the EU since 2011. Recent service sector employment growth has been asymmetrically polarised, with greater gains in jobs at the top and bottom of the wage distribution
  • ... but a recent bounce also in (mainly good quality) manufacturing employment: There has also been an increase of 1.5 million in the manufacturing employment headcount since 2013. Most of this increase has been in engineering, professional and management jobs in the top wage quintile and not in more traditional, blue collar production roles. Proportionately, the EU13 countries (those that have joined the EU since 2004) have been the main beneficiaries of net new manufacturing employment.
  • Ageing workforce: in many of the fastest growing large jobs, the share of older workers has increased significantly, suggesting that extended working lives and later retirement are important factors in explaining resilient recent employment growth.
  • Occupations do structure wage inequality: Occupations play an important role in the structuring of wage inequality in Europe. This is partly because occupations mediate the effect on wage inequality of other factors such as human capital, social class and segregation by gender or age. But occupations have their own effect on wage inequality as a result of specific mechanisms such as occupational licensing, credentialing or apprenticeship systems. Although there are wide differences across Europe both in terms of wages and in terms of wage inequality, the occupational wage hierarchy is very similar in all countries
  • ... but there has been only a marginal contribution of occupational wage and employment change to recent shifts in wage inequality: Most of the changes in wage inequality between 2005 and 2014 were the result of changes in the distribution of wages within occupations, with changes between occupations playing a much less important role and changes in the occupational structure (job polarisation) playing a very marginal one.

Employment change (% per annum) by job-wage quintile, EU,* 1998–2016

Previous Eurofound publications

What do Europeans do at work? A task-based analysis - European Jobs Monitor 2016 (annual report | executive summary)

- Upgrading or polarisation? Long-term and global shifts in the employment structure – European Jobs Monitor 2015 (annual report | executive summary)

- Drivers of recent job polarisation and upgrading in Europe - European Jobs Monitor 2014 (annual report | executive summary)

- Employment polarisation and job quality in the crisis: European Jobs Monitor 2013 (annual report | executive summary)

- Shifts in the job structure in Europe during the Great Recession (2011, report | executive summary)

- More and better jobs: Patterns of employment expansion in Europe (2008, report | executive summary)

Other publications

- An adapted version of the 2011 report was used as a chapter of the European Commission’s Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011

Transformations of the Employment Structure in the EU and the USA, 1995-2007 (2012, edited by Eurofound staff) 

- Fernandez-Macias, E. (2012). Job Polarization in Europe? Changes in the Employment Structure and Job Quality, 1995-2007, Work and Occupations (2012)