By Taps Coogan
The following map, from Eurostat, shows the unemployment rate in every region of Europe and Turkey as of 2017.
As the map clearly illustrates, there is a sharp divide between the low unemployment rates (blue) that persist in nearly every region of ‘Northern Europe’ and the higher unemployment rates that persist virtually everywhere else (tan, orange, and red). Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, the UK, Norway, and Denmark have only a few regions where the unemployment rate exceeds 5.7% and just one where the unemployment rate exceeds 9.5%. Conversely, there are only two regions/counties within all of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Slovenia where the unemployment rate is below 5.8%, a level generally considered to indicate a healthy labor market.
The economic division and nonperformance of the European Union is a theme that we have discussed frequently here at The Sounding Line. The EU is experiencing: falling wages, growing economic inequality, declining workforce participation, some of the worst bad debt ratios in the world, the highest effective tax burden in the developed world, nearly the slowest inflation adjusted economic growth in the world this century, the highest concentration of public workers among developed economies, surging capital flow imbalances, and declining productivity. All of this is has happened despite the European Central Bank maintaining interest rates at record negative lows and printing more money than any other central bank in the history of the world. Despite all of this, despite UK voters deciding to leave the EU nearly two years ago, and despite Italian voters’ recent abandonment of pro-EU parties, the leadership of the EU has put forward virtually no concrete structural, regulatory, or tax reforms to make the EU’s economy more competitive. To the contrary, the EU appears to be doubling down on higher taxes and more federalization.
Just imagine what will happen whenever the next recession eventually arrives.
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