Low unemployment rates in EFTA countries

Published 27-04-2015
Unemployment rates in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland were low in 2014 compared to those in European Union (EU) countries, according to data published recently by Eurostat.

Among all EU and EFTA countries, the lowest unemployment rates were found in Norway (3.5%), Switzerland (4.5%) and Iceland (4.9%). The overall unemployment rate in the EU was 10.1%, but this figure varied greatly across the Member States. Among the EU countries, Germany had the lowest unemployment rate (5.0%), followed by Austria (5.6%), Malta (5.9%) and Luxembourg (5.9%). The highest unemployment rates were found in Greece (26.5%) and Spain (24.4%), followed by Croatia (17.3%) and Cyprus (16.1%).

The overall unemployment rate in the EU fell by 0.7 percentage points between 2013 and 2014. The unemployment rate in Iceland also decreased, by 0.5 percentage points, while the unemployment rates in Norway and Switzerland increased slightly from 2013 to 2014, by 0.1 percentage points. 

For Norway and Switzerland, it is possible to compare the 2014 unemployment rates between different regions. In Norway, the highest unemployment rates were found in the south-east region (4.1%) and in Oslo and Akershus and Trøndelag (both 3.8%). Hedmark and Oppland (2.9%) and Western Norway (3.0%) had the lowest unemployment rates. Eurostat's Regional Statistics Illustrated offers an interactive map illustrating the annual regional unemployment rates.

In Switzerland, the highest unemployment rate in 2014 was found in the south-western parts of the country. In both the Lake Geneva region and Ticino, the unemployment rate was 6.7%. The eastern and central regions had the lowest unemployment rates, with 3.2% in Eastern Switzerland and 3.5% in Central Switzerland.

The regional differences in Norway and Switzerland were small compared to those found in some EU countries. The greatest regional variances in 2014 were found in Spain and Italy, where the difference between the regions with the lowest and highest unemployment rates was about 19 percentage points. Andalucia in Spain was the region with the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 34.8%. The lowest unemployment rates in the EU were in the regions of Prague in the Czech Republic and Upper Bavaria in Germany (both 2.5%).

Liechtenstein data are not available in this publication. The Liechtenstein Statistical Office reported an unemployment rate of 2.4% in Liechtenstein in 2014, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points from the previous year. These data are not directly comparable to the data published by Eurostat due to different use of methodology.

For further information, see Eurostat's News Release 73/2015 and a website dedicated to unemployment statistics at regional level. For data on Liechtenstein, see Arbeitslosenstatistik.

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