Race to the bottom: Europe’s precariat

Alexia Barakou

In the eurozone alone, more than five and a half million people found new jobs since the end of 2012. But four out of five are part-time or fixed-term and largely low-paid, according to Eurostat.

The majority of those affected want something else, namely permanent, full-time positions, the European Commission notes in its latest report on the EU labour market.

Europe’s job boom is mostly of “low quality”, concludes Merrill Lynch, the wealth management division of Bank of America. This is bad news for most.

“All these uncertain forms of work are extremely expensive for both the affected and the society,” warns Olivier Blanchard, until 2015 the long-serving chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.

But why has the “precarisation of labour”, as sociologists call it, reached this scale? And what must be done to stop it?