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Austrians concerned about EU unemployment

Joblessness is what worries Austrians the most, a poll regarding European issues shows.

Karmasin asked 500 Austrians to reveal which developments they were concerned about. Around 43 per cent identified unemployment. This means that Austrians fear negative trends in this regard more than anything else when it comes to European developments.

European decision-makers are at odds about how to react to the growing rise in unemployment in the European Union (EU). Especially the number of young people out of work is soaring.

Austria has the lowest unemployment rate in whole Europe but the alpine country experienced a rise last month. The Federal Labour Market Service (AMS) said 321,800 residents of Austria had no work in April up by 6.7 per cent compared to the same month of 2011.

Elderly people, immigrants and poorly educated young Austrians experience the biggest difficulties in getting employed, detail statistics show. Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission (EC), is nevertheless convinced that no other country has a better concept in tackling youth unemployment.

The former prime minister of Portugal said during a recent visit to Vienna that the Austrian anti-joblessness initiatives for young people had the chance to become a "best practice model" for the whole EU. Barroso said member states with high joblessness should get in touch with Austrian politicians and AMS experts. He said Austria’s strategy of offering labour traineeships and school education at the same time was the best way to combat joblessness among teenagers and young adult.

Right-wingers predicted a "wave of foreigners" to come to Austria for work when EU regulations forced the country to fully open its labour market to residents of all Eastern European (EE) members but Romania and Bulgaria in May 2011. Around 18,000 men and women came to Austria from these countries ever since.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer said this figure resembled figures predicted by labour and economy experts. He said the domestic job sector would manage to cope with the increasing demand from EE now that people from the region must not experience any kind of disadvantages on the Austrian labour market compared to jobseekers who were born in the alpine country. Austria had an unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent last month.

The new Karmasin survey – conducted for political magazine profil – identifies EU states’ debts as the second-biggest fear of Austrian voters. Forty-one per cent of questioned citizens named the issue as their biggest concern regarding political and economic developments in Europe. Only 12 per cent of Austrians named weak economic growth as their main worry.

Austria’s debt rate rose by 0.3 per cent from 2010 to 2011. The country’s debts resembled 72.2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDFP) in 2011. This puts Austria is in a more comfortable position than most of the EU’s other 26 members. The countries’ debts increased from 80 to 82.5 per cent of their GDPs on average from 2010 to last year.

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