BRUSSELS - There were some 125 million people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union last year, edging up steadily as the economy struggled, an EU survey showed Thursday.
It said those at risk have risen to 24.8 per cent of the population last year from 24.3 per cent in 2011 and 23.7 per cent in 2008.
The numbers included those deemed to meet at least one of three conditions -- at risk of poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.
The worst affected states in 2012 were Bulgaria with 49 per cent, Romania 42 per cent, Latvia 37 per cent and twice-bailed out Greece with 35 per cent.
The lowest rates were found in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, each with 15 per cent, followed by Finland with 17 per cent and Sweden and Luxembourg, both at 18 per cent.
The global financial crisis and ensuing slump brought the EU economy to its knees, sending unemployment soaring as growth disappeared and governments adopted harsh austerity policies to balance strained public finances.