The level of youth unemployment in Spain has bottomed out “so now it can only get better,” says the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is optimistic regarding such recovery.

“Youth unemployment in Spain is still high, over 50%; however it has fallen, and the estimates indicate that it may have already bottomed out,” said the director of the Department of Employment of the ILO, Azita Berar-Awad, at a press conference.

“The prospects seem better. They can no longer get worse”, said the expert of the agency during the presentation of the report titled ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2015’.

Berar-Awad insisted that, despite a slight recovery, current levels should be of great concern to the Spanish Government given their “severity” and significance.

The report indicates that Spain’s youth unemployment rate for 2014 stood at 53.2%, the highest of the six Mediterranean countries with the worst results in the entire European Union (Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal).

In these, as well as in another four EU countries (Bulgaria, Slovenia, Ireland, and the Netherlands) the unemployment levels in 2014 doubled the figures for 2008.

The paper provides some eloquent figures regarding the situation in Spain, such as the fact that between 2010 and 2014 the unemployment rate rose by 11.7 percentage points; or that the increase in the rate of temporary employment was 10.7 percentage points.

The increase in the involuntary half-working-day rate was 10.3 percentage points over the four years.

Between 2010 and 2014, there was a 9 percentage point progression of the number of young people at risk of falling into poverty or social exclusion.

The rate of young people who were neither working nor studying in 2014 stood at 17.1%.

The report makes it clear that the austerity measures imposed by the Spanish Government have clearly had an impact on unemployment in general and on youth unemployment in particular.

“Young people in the five countries (Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal) have been deeply affected by the economic crisis and the austerity programmes”, indicates the document submitted by the ILO.

“Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal showed increases in the levels of youth unemployment at a rate between 10 and 20 percentage points between 2010 and 2014, well above the European average of less than one point,” it adds.

For the ILO, there is room for optimism because it believes that Spain has a margin for recovery as can be seen in real cases of improvements.

“There are countries that have succeeded in reducing and leaving those astronomical numbers behind; Ireland is an example of this”, said Sara Elder, main author of the report.

“A few years ago, Ireland was doing as badly as Spain and Greece, and now we see that there has been a drop (in its youth unemployment rate) to 24%; while this is still high, it is half the percentage of Greece and Spain,” said Elder.

“Once you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up,” insisted Elder.

In terms of global figures, the ILO report points out that the youth unemployment rate stood at 13% (73 million people) last year; still above the 11.7 % prior to the economic crisis.

Compared to 2012, it has fallen by 1.4 percentage points in developed economies and in the EU, and by half a percentage point or less in countries in Central and South-eastern Europe (non-EU) and the former Soviet republics, in Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The other regions –Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa– recorded increases between 2012 and 2014 or no change.

The declining trends in the relationship between the young active population and those who have a job is closely related to the rising trends in schooling, the report warns.

According to the study, 31% of young people in low-income countries have no educational qualifications, compared to 6% in middle-income countries and 2% in developed countries.