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EU sounds alarm on poverty among working-age people

In its latest review of social developments, the European Commission has said finding a job increasingly has not pulled people out of economic hardship. It said poverty among people with jobs was a major problem.

The EU executive said Tuesday the European debt crisis had led to a significant rise in poverty among people of working age.

It stated that finding fresh employment only helped people out of poverty in 50 percent of all cases as those who managed to land a job tended to work fewer hours or for lower wages than before.

"Unfortunately, we cannot say that having a job necessarily equates with a decent standard of living," EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a statement. "A gradual reduction of unemployment is unlikely to be enough to reverse the increasing trend in poverty levels," he concluded.

Austerity to blame?

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While the eurozone left the recession behind towards the end of last year, jobless rates in the 18-member bloc have remained stubbornly high, with youth unemployment a particular concern for policy makers across the area.

Nearly a quarter of EU citizens are at risk of poverty and exclusion, struggling to cover basic living costs.

"In Europe, austerity has boiled down to a dismantling of the welfare state and public services," the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) argued, calling for more growth incentives across the bloc.

hg/slk (dpa, AFP)

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