The first quarter of 2020 is the first quarter in which the labour market across the EU has been affected by COVID-19 measures taken by the Member States.
Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, a record low number* of 2.6 million people in the EU (20.4% of all unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2019) found a job. During this period, 6.9 million (53.9%) remained unemployed and a further 3.3 million (25.8%) became economically inactive.
Of all those initially in employment in the fourth quarter of 2019, 2.2 million (1.4%) became unemployed in the first quarter of 2020, and a record-high number* of 3.9 million (2.5%) transitioned into economic inactivity.
From those initially counted as economically inactive in the fourth quarter of 2019, 3.3 million (3.3%) moved into employment in the first quarter of 2020, and 3.2 million (3.2%) transitioned into unemployment.
 * since the beginning of the time series in Q2 2010

The graphic and table below give an overview of all possible transitions and show the changes in labour market status. In the graphic, the figures for employment, unemployment and inactivity refer to the number of people remaining in each status between the two quarters. The grey arrows indicate the direction of net flows. 

Transitions in labour market status in the EU, Q4 2019-Q1 2020 (population aged 15-74, in millions)

Transitions in labour market status in the EU, Q4 2019-Q1 2020
Source dataset: lfsi_long_q (including Member States' data)

Methodological notes:
  • Employment and unemployment as defined by the ILO concept are, in this particular situation, not sufficient to describe all the developments taking place in the labour market. In this first phase of the COVID-19 crisis, active measures to contain employment losses led to absences from work rather than dismissals, and individuals could not search for work or were not available due to the containment measures, thus not counting as unemployed according to the ILO concept. For more information as well as additional indicators, take a look at the news release on EU labour market in the first quarter of 2020.
  • These figures are based on seasonally adjusted data. They do not include data for Germany.

Note: The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.