Brno, Czech Republic – According to data released by Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical office, young employed Czechs are the least at risk of poverty throughout the bloc.
In 2017, the average share of young people aged 18 to 24 in work and at risk of poverty in the European Union was estimated at 11% – roughly than 1 percentage point lower than the previous year – and 11.9% in the Eurozone area.
According to Eurostat, individuals are identified as being at risk of poverty if their disposable income is less than 60% of the country’s medium disposable income after social transfers have been taken into account.
The peak of 12.9% was reached in 2014 and has been falling every year since. All generations included, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for people at work is slightly lower and stands at around 9.5%.
Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have the best results in Europe: only 1.5% of young employed Czechs and 3.8% of young employed Slovaks were at risk of poverty in 2017. In the Czech Republic, the at-risk-of-poverty rate among young employed people reached a peak in 2012 (5.2%), and the following year in Slovakia (6.1%). Other good performing countries are Finland (4.2%), Malta (5.1%) and Slovenia (5.4%).
At the opposite end of the scope, the highest proportion of young people aged 18-24 at risk of poverty can be found in Romania (28.2%), Luxembourg (20%), Denmark (19.1%), Spain (19%) and Estonia (18.4%).
One of the easiest ways to explain why young Czechs are so well-off compared to their European neighbors pertains to the general state of the labor market: the Czech Republic boasts the lowest unemployment rate in Europe (less than 2% in November last year according to the Czech statistical office) and the highest job vacancy rate in the European Union.
The Czech economy and business are struggling with intensifying labor shortages, which fuels an increase in Czech wages, and have trouble finding applicants to fill the open positions. To keep up the pace of their galloping growth, many companies have to find workers from abroad, especially Ukraine or the Balkans, and rely on employment agencies which have proliferated in recent years, sometimes at the border of legality.