The labour market across the EU slightly recovered in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the EU, the employment rate of people aged 20-64 stood at 72.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020, which represents an increase of 0.3 percentage points (pp) compared with the third quarter of 2020, according to data released Wednesday by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
According to Eurostat, the labour market slack, which comprises all people who have an unmet need for employment and of which one of the main components is unemployment, amounted to 13.7% of the extended labour force aged 20-64 in the fourth quarter 2020, down from 14.1% in the third quarter 2020 (-0.4 pp).
Changes in the employment rate between the third and the fourth quarter of 2020 varied across the EU Member States. The highest increases were recorded in Luxembourg (+2.1 pp) and Estonia (+1.2 pp). While employment rose in 18 EU Member States, five recorded a decrease: Slovakia and Belgium (both -0.3 pp), Austria (-0.2 pp), Hungary and Cyprus (both -0.1 pp).
Furthermore, according to Eurostat, in February 2021, the seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 1.0% in the euro area and by 0.9% in the EU, compared with January 2021, according to estimates from.
In January 2021, industrial production rose by 0.8% in the euro area and in the EU. In February 2021 compared with February 2020, industrial production decreased by 1.6% in the euro area and by 1.1% in the EU.
In the euro area in February 2021, compared with January 2021, production of capital goods fell by 1.9%, energy by 1.2%, durable consumer goods by 1.1%, intermediate goods by 0.7% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.1%.
In the EU, production of capital goods fell by 1.9%, durable consumer goods by 1.0%, energy by 0.7%, intermediate goods by 0.6% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.1%.
Among Member States for which data are available, the largest decreases were registered in France (-4.8%), Malta (-3.8%) and Greece (-2.5%). The highest increases were observed in Hungary (+4.8%), Ireland (+4.2%) and Croatia (+3.4%).
In the euro area in February 2021, compared with February 2020, production of non-durable consumer goods fell by 4.3%, capital goods by 2.2%, energy by 1.5% and intermediate goods by 0.1%, while production of durable consumer goods rose by 0.7%.
In the EU, production of non-durable consumer goods fell by 3.8%, capital goods by 2.4% and energy by 1.5%, while production of intermediate goods rose by 0.5% and durable consumer goods by 2.4%.
Among Member States for which data are available, the largest decreases were registered in Malta (-10.9%), Estonia (-8.9%) and France (-6.4%). The highest increases were observed in Ireland (+41.4%), Lithuania (+9.7%) and Finland (+5.6%). No data are available for Cyprus.
Finally, according to Eurostat, in 2020, 7% of enterprises in the EU with at least 10 people employed used Artificial intelligence (AI) applications.
While 2% of the enterprises used machine learning to analyse big data internally, 1% analysed big data internally with the help of natural language processing, natural language generation or speech recognition.
A chat service, where a chatbot or virtual agent generated natural language replies to customers, was used in 2% of the enterprises. The same proportion of enterprises, 2%, used service robots, which are characterised with some degree of autonomy, for example to carry out cleaning, dangerous or repetitive tasks such as cleaning up poisonous substances, sorting items in the warehouse, helping customers in shopping or at payment points etc.
Among the EU Member States, Ireland recorded the highest share of enterprises (23%) that used any of the four considered AI applications in 2020. Other countries with widespread uptake of AI technologies were Malta (19%), Finland (12%) and Denmark (11%).
In contrast, less than 10% of enterprises used any of the four AI applications in 2020 in all other Member States. The lowest shares were recorded in Latvia (2%), Slovenia, Hungary, Cyprus (3% each) and Poland (4%).