There has been a lot of media attention paid to the economic recovery over the past few months, and particularly the improving job market which has come as welcome relief not only to the recruitment sector but also the country as a whole. So, with the European elections taking place this week how is our economy fairing with our neighbours across the channel? Unemployment figures for various European countries for each year between 2009 and 2014 can be seen on the Euronews website, showing a varied picture across the continent. These figures range massively, from more than a quarter of people in Greece without a job to just under 5% in Austria.

What is the situation in the UK?

With the recent recession hitting the UK economy hard, the last few years have been tough for the UK recruitment industry. With news of an upturn in the rate of people in employment, this is gradually changing. Official figures released for the months leading up to March 2014 show a steep decrease in the amount of people out of work, which at 2.2 million is now at a five year low. This decline is also true of youth unemployment which stands at 868,000. This rapid and continual growth of the jobs market has come as a surprise to many, with growth largely being put down to an increase in the number of people becoming self employed. In all 283,000 people found work between January and March, with 183,000 of these working as self-employed.

How does this compare to other countries in the EU?

Whilst unemployment across the EU has dropped by 0.4% so far this year, it does still remain higher than pre-2012 levels. This average is pushed up by countries such as Spain and Greece, whose economy is still suffering badly from the recession, with unemployment rates at around 25%. At the other end of the spectrum other countries, such as Denmark and Germany, who have a lower unemployment rate than our own, have shown a steady decrease in unemployment since 2009. This is in contrast to the steep drop seen in the UK this year. In all, most countries in the EU have seen an improvement in their unemployment rates in the last year, with just a handful of countries, for example Italy and the Netherlands, bucking this trend.

It will be interesting to see how these figures change over the course of this year; however it is safe to say that overall things are heading in the right direction, both at home and in the EU.