22 EU regions had still not grown back from the 2008 recession

As we face the prospect of a recession once again, it is instructive to look back at how quickly countries in Europe recovered from the last recession and what proportion of households were left behind, Money Buzz! learned from a study published by the Federation of International Employers (FedEE).

If we take GDP per inhabitant (at equivalent purchasing power parities) as our measure of economic well-being, then the lowest point in the last recession came in 2008. How long did it take for the European Union’s (EU’s) 270 regions to recover from that point?

The most curious fact was that six regions in Poland and the French Island of Corsica never experienced the recession at all. Their economies just kept on growing. It is also important to note that, by 2011, half of the EU’s regions had recovered their position to be at, or above, their 2008 level. But, for the rest, recovery was slow – and even by 2017 a total of 22 EU regions had still not grown back to their 2008 position. 12 of these most ailing regions were in Greece, four in Italy and three in Spain.

By 2017 not even every thriving region had a universal picture of improving affluence. In many regions many people were left behind. One way to look at this is to measure the level of work intensity amongst adults in households – excluding those occupants in full-time education or retired. Low intensity means that less than 20% of available hours were worked in the household over the previous 12 months.

Looked at in this way, the social and economic landscape of the European Union looks very different. Low work intensity for the whole of the EU accounted for just over 10% of households. But if we concentrate on cities, then low work intensity was highest in Belgium and Ireland (over 20% and 15% of households respectively). Low work intensity in rural areas was highest in Bulgaria (well over 20%), Spain, Croatia and, once again, the Irish Republic. Finally, if we look at smaller towns and suburbs, low work intensity was highest (again) in the Irish Republic and Greece.

By sharp contrast, the most industrious households in cities could be found in Slovakia, in rural areas the Czech Republic, France and the Netherlands and in small towns and suburbs across Malta, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia.

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