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 2016: What do Europeans do at work? A task-based analysis  - published in June 2016 –  introduces a new set of indicators describing what European workers do at work in terms of tasks, methods and the tools used. Derived from international databases on work and occupations, these indicators provide valuable new insights on the recent evolution of European labour markets, as well as a better understanding of labour input in the production process. One key finding is that in recent years, while routine task methods have shrunk in structural terms (because the most routine occupations employ declining numbers due to computerisation or offshoring), at the same time traditionally non-routine occupations have become considerably more routinised.

The report also provides a descriptive summary of employment shifts by job-wage quintile for the EU28 in the period 2011-15. Some of the report’s main conclusions:

  • Labour market recovery: There were four million people more in employment in the EU28 in mid-2015 compared to two years previously. The resumption of employment growth since 2013 has been particularly reflected in increasing levels of employment in low- and mid-paid jobs, jobs where employment declines were sharpest during the two recessionary periods following 2008. There has been a flatter, more equal distribution of new employment across the wage distribution though job growth continues to be relatively strongest in the well-paid, top quintile jobs.
  • Increasing share of part-time work: The share of part-time work in the EU is increasing rapidly. This trend is the main component in the declining share of workers in traditional, full-time, permanent work, referred to in the report as ‘core employment’. Growth of core employment is increasingly confined to top-quintile, well-paid jobs; in all other quintiles of the wage distribution, it is decreasing and largely being replaced by non-standard employment.
  • Employment growth in services … but also in manufacturing: The services category accounts for nearly all net new employment in recent years, with a growing share in 2013–2015 occurring in less knowledge-intensive services such as food and beverages and residential care. There was also an increase of 800,000 jobs in manufacturing since 2013 and evidence of a recomposition of employment in this sector towards higher-paid jobs.
  • Jobs = bundles of tasks: The types of tasks carried out at work can be used to characterise the different occupations in European labour markets and to better understand the diversity of economic structures and their evolution in recent years. There seems to be a typical path of change in the task profile of countries, linked to economic development: physical, routine and machine-use tasks are in decline, while intellectual (especially literacy) tasks, social tasks and ICT use are experiencing steady growth. However, there are significant exceptions, which indicate different paths of development and specialisation: for instance, serving tasks (which tend to be repetitive and involve low intellectual demands) have grown very significantly in some countries such as Spain and the UK but not in others.
  • Routine work in decline but all jobs becoming more routine: Although the distribution of tasks in the working population is fundamentally structured by occupations and sectors, it can also change within the same job or occupational category. This within-job change can go in the opposite direction to structural change, which means that a focus on the latter can be misleading. For instance, in recent years, routine task methods have shrunk in structural terms (because the most routine occupations are in decline), while at the same time traditionally non-routine occupations have become considerably routinised.

Employment shifts (EU, % pa) by job-wage quintile 1998-2015

Source: EU-LFS, SES (author's calculations).
Notes: leftmost bar in each chart = those in lowest paid 20%; rightmost bar = those in highest paid 20%. See report p.10 for details of country aggregations for the different periods.

Job tasks indicator data

For researchers interested in using the set of indicators on task content, methods and tools at work developed for and described in the EJM annual report 2016, the following compressed folder is made available. The folder contains 6 different files of which 4 are Stata DO-files which allow to create the task indices directly from the original sources (i.e. the European Working Conditions survey, ONET and OECD-PIAAC) and to merge them with EU-LFS employment data in one unique database. The other two remaining files contain, in two different formats (Microsoft Excel Worksheet and Stata), the task indices at the job level (defined as a combination of ISCO 08 and NACE Rev 2.0 at two-digit level). Download the compressed folder (992 KB, ZIP).

Please acknowledge source in any publication using this data as follows: 'Source: European Jobs Monitor Task Indicator dataset, Eurofound 2016'.

Previous Eurofound publications

- 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)