Employment in the EU has continued to improve, overall, despite a temporary slowdown in economic growth. That is according to the European Commission’s ‘Employment in Europe 2006’ report. It says reforms are producing results. Unemployment in the EU fell by almost half a percentage point in 2005 (to 8.7% from the previous year) while employment growth almost doubled, to 0.9%.) And yet, while the Commissioner for Employment, Vladimír `pidla, welcomed the improvements, he underlined that ‘despite the rise in the employment rates of women and older workers, progress towards a 70 percent employment rate target is not happening fast enough’.
The report highlights the fruits of targeted policies to attract and retain more women and older workers. Since 2000, the employment rate for women has risen by between five and ten percent or more, depending on the country. Progress, however, has not been uniform across the Member States. For example, female employment rates across the EU ranged from over 70% in Denmark and Sweden to about 34% in Malta.