This paper analyzes how the frictions in the labor market simultaneously affect the economic growth and the long run unemployment. To this goal, we develop a Schumpeterian model of endogenous growth: agents have the choice of being employed or being doing R&D activities. Unemployment is caused by the wage-setting behavior of unions. We show that: (i) High labor costs or powerful trade unions lead to higher unemployment and lower economic growth. (ii) Efficient bargain allows to increase employment, at the price of a lower growth rate. These theoretical predictions are consistent with our empirical analysis based on 183 European Regions, between 1980-2003. Finally, in a welfare exercise, we show that the optimal growth rate can be reached by compensating the distortions on the goods-sector due to the growth process with the distortions induced by the labor market rigidities.