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Europe – Unemployment “stable” but Spain and Greece continue to cause concern

02 May 2012

While unemployment in the 27 EU countries has remained “stable” at 10.2% in March 2012 when compared to the previous month, year-on-year this rate was up by +0.8% as over 2.1 million persons have become jobless since March 2011. This figure is significantly higher when compared to some of the largest world economies, topping by far rates for the US (8.2%) and Japan (4.5%).

The statistics office, Eurostat, said today that some of the best performing labour markets were in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands while Spain and Greece continue to cause worries, recording the highest unemployment rates in the region. Youth unemployment has also sharply gone up.

Over 24.7 million people were unemployed in the month of March and the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.0%), the Netherlands (5.0%), Luxembourg (5.2%) and Germany (5.6%).

In Southern Europe the picture was a different one as Spain (24.1%) and Greece (21.7% in January 2012) have seen the highest unemployment rate in Europe.

Eurostat also said that year-on-year, the unemployment rate fell in eight countries and increased in nineteen. The largest drops were recorded in Lithuania, Latvia while the highest increases were registered in Greece, Spain and Cyprus.

The statistics also show that, when compared to a year ago, unemployment among women is higher than amongst men across the 27 member states. The rate for males increased from 9.3% to 10.2% while for women this number was up from 9.6% to 10.3% in the EU27.

Youth unemployment was also up by 303,000 at 22.6% compared to 21.0% a year ago. The lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.9%), Austria (8.6%) and the Netherlands (9.3%), while Greece (51.2% in January 2012) and Spain (51.1%) again showed the highest figures. This takes the total number of unemployed young people under the age of 25 in the EU to 5.5 million. 

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