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Regional differences in unemployment further hinder EU recovery

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Michael Probst/AP

(Read caption) President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi speaks during a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, July 5, 2012. The European Central Bank has cut its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to boost a eurozone economy weighed down by the continent's crisis over too much government debt. Regional differences in unemployment further hinder the EU recovery.

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That there are big differences in unemployment within the EU, ranging from 4.1% in Austria to 24.6% in Spain is well known. What is perhaps less known is that dramatic differences in unemployment exists within many countries as well (note that the below numbers was last year's annual averages).

In multilingual countries these differences follow to a large extent linguistical divisions, where the pattern seems to be that speakers of Germanic languages have lower unemployment than others.

Unemployment is for example significantly lower within Finland's Swedish speaking minority than within its Finnish speaking majority, which is reflected by the fact that the overwhelmingly Swedish (90%) Åland region has an unemployment rate of only 2.5% compared to 8% in mainland Finland where Swedish speakers are only 5% of the population.

In Italy, in the majority German speaking South Tyrol region that borders Austria, unemployment is 3.3% compared to 8.5% in the rest of Italy. In Switzerland too, the German speaking parts have significantly lower unemployment (3-4%) than the French and Italian speaking parts (more than 6%).

In Belgium, the Dutch speaking Flanders region has significantly lower unemployment (4.3%) than the French speaking Wallonia region (9.5%). For some reason, the theoretically bilingual but in practice overwhelmingly French speaking Brussels region has even higher unemployment (16.9%) than in Wallonia.

However, even in some monolingual countries significant regional differences exists. In Austria, unemployment is far lower in the Salzburg and Tyrol regions unemployment is only 2.5% compared to 7% in Vienna. In Germany unemploymnet varied between 3.3% in Bavaria to 11-12% in Berlin and some other parts of eastern Germany. In Slovakia unemployment ranged between 5.8% in Bratislavia to 18.7% in eastern Slovakia. And in Spain unemployment ranged between 12% in Pais Vasco in northern Spain to 30.4% in Andalucia in the south. 

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