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Europe – Unemployment hits fresh record

01 May 2013

European unemployment climbed dramatically in March with the Eurozone countries posting a jobless rate of 12.1% in the month, up from 12.0% in February. A year ago, unemployment in the Eurozone stood at 11%, according to official data by Eurostat.

In all 27 member states of the EU, unemployment reached 10.9% and remained flat from the previous month. But the number of people out of work has risen by +0.6% when compared to the same time a year ago, painting a grim picture of the local labour markets.

Other large economies showed much lower unemployment figures in March with the US posting a rate of 7.6% and Japan of 4.1%. Politicians warned that European unemployment remained unacceptably high.

It is estimated that a total of 26.5 million people in the EU were unemployed in March, rising by an annual 1.8 million. The lowest rates were recorded in Austria (4.7%), Germany (5.4%) and Luxembourg (5.7%). With a North-South divide evident, joblessness was highest in Greece (27.2% in January), Spain (26.7%) and Portugal (17.5%).

In 19 countries unemployment crept up within the course of a year and only eight posted declines.  The highest increases were seen in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. The largest drops were meanwhile noted in Latvia, Estonia and Ireland.

Youth unemployment also remains worryingly high with nearly 5.7 million young people out of work during March. “Youth unemployment has potentially disastrous consequences, especially if it prolongs, as young people can be cut off not only from the labour market but from society as a whole,” said the EU's employment and social affairs commissioner, Laszlo Andor.

“EU institutions and governments, business and social partners at all levels need to do all they can to avoid a 'lost generation'.”

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