Writing in the NZ Herald about youth unemployment in NZ, calling for the PM to make it his priority, Fran O'Sullivan said this:
In the European Union, one in five young people under 25 who is willing to work can't get a job. That's Europe's problem, but in fact the ratio is much higher in New Zealand.
What is that claim based on?
Tables here show that in September 2012 of the 15-24 age group, officially unemployed are 65,200 out of a labour force of 376,500 - 17.3 percent.
Data from Eurostat :
In November 2012, 5.799 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU27, of whom 3.733 million were in the euro area. Compared with November 2011, youth unemployment rose by 329 000 in the EU27 and by
420 000 in the euro area. In November 2012, the youth unemployment rate was 23.7% in the EU27 and 24.4% in the euro area, compared with 22.2% and 21.6% respectively in November 2011. In November 2012 the lowest
rates were observed in Germany (8.1%), Austria (9.0%) and the Netherlands (9.7%), and the highest in Greece (57.6% in September 2012) and Spain (56.5%).
The unemployment rate for under 25 year-olds in EU27 in November 2012 was 23.7 percent compared to New Zealand's 17.3 percent. The ratio is not "much higher" here. In fact it is substantially lower.
Could the claim refer to the other measure of youth inactivity - the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate?
The European Union NEET rate in July 2012 was 12.9 percent. In NZ in September 2012 it was 13.4 percent. Still no basis.
Anyway, this is interesting.
Scanning a European report about NEETs I came across this description of those countries with the least problem:
This cluster groups together continental and Nordic countries and includes Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. This is a mix of countries that have pursued flexicurity policies, neo-liberal countries and countries with a dual educational system. With the exception of the UK, all these countries are characterised by a low NEET rate.(Flexicurity definition - "It combines flexible hiring and firing with a generous social safety net and an extensive system of activation policies")
So the government's pursuing more flexible employment laws, putting more stringent work-testing on benefits and avoiding monopoly public education look like the right approach.