What does 74% youth unemployment feel like?

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    A rare moment of jolity in Athens. Passers-by put their bags down and sprang into dance as street musicians begin to play traditional Balkan music.


    - Stephen Beard/Marketplace

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    In spite of the slogan, an air of resignation hangs over young people in Athens. Youth unemployment hovers above 40 percent.

    - Stephen Beard/Marketplace

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    This local theatre is perhaps a lesson in lost confidence that has impacted Greece.


    - Stephen Beard/Marketplace

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    One of the lesser known impacts of high youth unemployment in Greece is that less and less people are getting married in the country, because they can't afford it.

    - Stephen Beard/Marketplace

HOST: The Italian Prime Minister called it his country's "true nightmare". The German Chancellor says it threatens the future of Europe. They were talking about youth unemployment - a much bigger problem in Europe than in the U.S. Throughout this week, Marketplace is putting the spotlight on Europe's jobless generation. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard reports.

BEARD: The numbers are appalling. The rates of youth unemployment in some European countries have reached horrific levels: 60 percent in Greece, 74 percent in parts of southern Spain. And ,of course, these are not just statistics; they are real people.

GEORGIA CISKA: "I am a young person, I have to work. I want to work. And I can't."

BEARD: 28-year-old Georgia Ciska from Athens has a university degree and speaks three languages but she cannot find a job - any job …even waiting at tables.

BEARD: You applied for hundreds of jobs would you say?

CISKA: "Yes hundreds."

BEARD: And what response did you get?

CISKA: "No response at all."

BEARD: Like Georgia lives with her parents and is totally dependent on them. 22 year old Jon Kolliarakis is a qualified insurance broker , also unemployed, also living at home and feeling guilty.

JON KOLLIARAKIS: "I feel I am not contributing to my family and thius is bad for me, very bad."

BEARD: Jon feels he wasted his time getting an education. That feeling is widespread. In Italy 24 year old Christina Lupo worked hard for her degree and her masters. Now she's wondering why she bothered.

CHRISTINA LUPO: "It's better that a person starts to work, early at 18 , in a restaurant and don't study because person that study …it's really difficult to find a job."

BEARD: In recent months European governments have committed to spend $10 billion combatting youth joblessness. In Athens Georgia Ciska is not reassured. So bruised is she by her long spell without work , she doesn't feel she'll ever get a secure, well paid job.

CISKA: "I think it will be like that forever in Greece, for my generation at least."

About the author

Stephen Beard is the London Bureau Chief, providing daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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