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Europe's underemployed youths

The recent protests in France put a spotlight on the employment prospects of young people in Europe. While the French government has relented and withdrawn the Youth Labor Law, which made it easier to hire and fire young workers, unemployment among young people remains a problem throughout Europe. Which of these nations has the highest rate of unemployment for young people?

ANSWERS: A. France B. Switzerland C. Italy D. Poland

A. France is not correct.

The jobless rate of 15- to 24-year-olds is 21.3 percent, more than double that of the country's overall unemployment rate, which was 9.7 percent as of 2004. This divergence helps explain the frustration that young people feel as they try to enter the labor market.

B. Switzerland is not correct.

Switzerland, with just 7.7 percent of all young people unemployed, has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ahead of Denmark with 7.8 percent, which is followed by the Netherlands, Iceland, and Ireland.

All other European countries have double-digit levels of youth unemployment. In Germany, 10.6 percent of young people are unemployed, while in Britain, 11.5 percent have no jobs. By comparison, the US level of youth unemployment is 11.8 percent, almost double Mexico's 6 percent.

C. Italy is not correct.

Italy does not have the highest level of youth unemployment in Europe, but its young people have reason to worry with regard to finding jobs.

With Italy's youth unemployment rate at 23.5 percent, almost 1 in 4 Italians ages 15 to 24 does not have a job. Italy stands out because its youth unemployment rate is almost three times higher than the general population's 8 percent jobless rate.

D. Poland is correct.

Poland's history since 1989 is one of a proud and courageous transformation, both in political and economic terms, but policy makers have failed on the issue of youth employment.

At a staggering 40.8 percent, Poland has by far the highest level of unemployed young people. Only Slovakia, with just over 32.7 percent of unemployed youth, comes close.

The Globalist Quiz is produced by The Globalist, a research organization based in Washington that promotes awareness of world affairs. © 2006 The Globalist,

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