Online recruitment activity dropped like a stone in a number of EU countries in the 12 months from December 2007 to December 2008. Had recruitment activity not held up so well in Germany in the period, the Monster Employment Index for Europe would have registered a dramatic drop-off.

With its 40-million strong workforce, Germany has the biggest economy in Europe and the heaviest weighting in the Monster Employment Index for Europe, which combines seven sub-indices for the countries of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK). The Index is calculated by adding the number of jobs listed on a representative number of corporate Web sites and job portals in each country – including the Monster portals in those countries. 

In the 12-month period from December 2007 to December 2008, the Monster Employment Index for Europe dropped “only” 5.8 percent. But, the seven countries in the Index experienced the effects of the financial markets crisis and global economic slowdown quite differently. 

The labor markets of two countries were effected particularly hard in the period, namely Sweden and the Netherlands (both countries are known for the big roles the state plays in their economies!).

In Sweden and the Netherlands online recruitment activity dropped by 29 percent and 28.3 percent respectively. Three other EU countries registered severe drops in online recruitment activity over the 12-month period, namely the UK (-19 percent), Belgium (-19.7 percent) and France (-19.5 percent). 

Against this backdrop, Italy and Germany were star performers. In Italy the online recruitment activity dropped “only” 1.9 percent in the 12-month period under consideration, while Germany weathered the storm even more remarkably: In December 2008 online recruitment activity was still 1.5 percent above the December 2008 level.  

But, Germany’s anchor role is about to evaporate. Labor market experts expect Germany’s labor market to start showing the effects of the economic slowdown in the first quarter of 2009. And without Germany’s stabilizing influence, the Monster Employment Index for Europe is set to register big declines in the first half of 2009. 

The sub-index for Germany has held up so well until now, mainly due to the health, tourism and education sectors, where recruitment activity continued to climb right up to the end of 2008. The absolute star performer was Germany’s health sector, where recruitment activity rose for the eight consecutive month in December to an all-time high. 

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