Press release, 15 March 2013

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Eurofound publishes its European Jobs Monitor 2013:

A polarising crisis: higher paid jobs prove most resilient

More than four years after the onset of the economic and social crisis, there are five million fewer people in work in the 27 European Union Member States. Eurofound’s second annual European Jobs Monitor report ‘Employment polarisation and job quality in the crisis’ finds that the destruction of employment during the crisis has been sharpest in mid-paying jobs, while sparing in large part jobs at either end of the wage distribution. Higher paid jobs in service sectors in particular have proved most resilient.

New well-paid employment has come primarily in knowledge-intensive service sectors, such as ICT, business consultancy, health and education. During the peak period of the recession (2008–2009), employment growth in well-paid jobs was concentrated in predominantly publicly funded service sectors, principally health and education, but has shifted to private sector services more recently (2011-12).

Some low-paid jobs have also increased employment – for example, cleaners and personal care workers in social work and residential care. In general, jobs in the lowest quintile have fared much better than those in the “shrinking middle”. The majority of construction and manufacturing jobs are near or just below median pay levels and these have suffered the brunt of employment losses. As these sectors are predominantly male, the aggregate impacts of the crisis have been very different for men and for women.

Female job losses have been much more modest. Indeed, the recession can be seen as accelerating the catch-up process of women in the labour market, both in terms of employment numbers and access to higher layers of the employment structure. Women have increased their employment share, particularly in ‘mid-paid’ and ‘good’ jobs (those in the higher quintiles). In part, this has been because women are overrepresented in certain growing sectors such as health and underrepresented in declining sectors. But it also reflects higher levels of educational attainment by women at a time when qualifications are an even more important requisite for access to better quality jobs.

An alarming illustration of the damage caused by the crisis to the prospects of younger, labour market entrants is that over the last year more of the net EU growth in well-paid, third-level graduate jobs was accounted for by those in the post-retirement age group (65+) than by workers under 30.

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, media manager, on email:, telephone: +353-1-204 3124, or mobile: +353-876-593 507.


The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite EU Agency which provides social partners, governments and EU decision makers with relevant, timely and unbiased research results so that the lives of European citizens can be improved.

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