EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

European Jobs Monitor

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. Is employment growing relatively fastest in well-paid, mid-paid or high-paid jobs? 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.

New EJM chart data for all Member States (except Luxembourg) have been updated for 20082018 and can now be consulted interactively online as can the regional data from the 2019 report.

Latest findings

The latest EJM thematic report, 'Regional shifts in the employment structure' published in June 2019, takes the region rather than the Member State as the main unit of analysis. While inequality has been contracting within the EU as a whole, within individual Member States it has tended to grow. This within-country growth of inequality often has a strong regional dimension. This report - co-published by Eurofound and the European Commission Joint Research Centre – shows how the employment structure has evolved at regional level in nine larger Member States in the period 2002–2017 contributing to regionally unbalanced growth.

Some of the report’s main conclusions

  • Regions specialise more than countries so, as expected, there is greater diversity in the employment structures of regions than countries.
  • Capital city regions in particular have benefited from the ‘services shift’ and globalisation megatrends. If not quite ‘winner takes all’, these regions have been ‘winner takes most’, accounting for a disproportionate share of new well-paid employment in most Member States.
  • At the same time, employment in capital city regions has been polarising – with expanding shares of employment not only at the top but also at the bottom of the wage distribution.
  • The growing economic importance of capital city regions has been accompanied by the growing electoral importance of ‘left behind’ regions, often former industrial heartlands. Unbalanced regional growth is likely to be an important contextual factor behind the growing appeal of populist politics.

Summary of employments shifts

The report also provides a descriptive summary of employment shifts by job-wage quintile for the EU28 as a whole, as well as individual Member States, up to 2018. At aggregate level, most net new employment since 2011 has been in well-paid jobs and this trend has tended to consolidate with the labour market recovery post-2013. However, patterns differ across member states with examples of upgrading, polarisation and downgrading in individual countries (see country data, 2008–2018).

Employment change (% per annum) by job-wage quintile, EU, * 1998–2018

* Different EU country aggregates and periodisations are used due to data availability, as follows: for 1998–2007, 23 Member States (no data for Cyprus, Malta, Poland); for 2008–2010, 27 Member States (no data for Croatia); for 2011–2018, 27 Member States (data for Luxembourg omitted). For all periods from 2008 onwards, figures are based on data from the second quarter of each year. The most recent chart, 2011–2018, is based on an adaptation of the jobs-based approach (see footnote no. 6 in Chapter 2), using a tailor-made EU-LFS data extraction carried out in January 2019. For this reason, it may differ slightly from previously reported EJM figures, due to data revisions in the underlying EU-LFS data.

Source: EU-LFS, SES (author’s calculations)

Previous Eurofound publications

- Occupational change and wage inequality: European Jobs Monitor 2017 (thematic report | executive summary)

- 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)

- Fernández-Macías, E. and Hurley, J., (2017). Routine-biased technical change and job polarization in EuropeSocio-Economic Review