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Friday, May 31, 2013

Eurozone unemployment hits new high with quarter of under-25s jobless

Overall eurozone unemployment rose to 12.2% in April, with young jobless rate up slightly at 24.4% from 24.3% in March

Eurozone unemployment has hit a fresh high with young people the hardest hit as now almost one in four under-25s are out of work in the crisis-stricken currency bloc.

Eurozone unemployment rose to 12.2% for April, an all-time high, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union.

At 24.4%, youth unemployment was double the wider jobless rate and up from 24.3% in March. The problem was most extreme in Greece where almost two out of every three under-25s are unemployed. The rate was 62.5% in February, the most recently available data.

The numbers come just days after eurozone leaders announced plans to get more young people into work as they face warnings about the risks of civil unrest and long-term costs to their economies.

Economists forecast that joblessness will get worse before it gets better in the eurozone.

"An end to the eurozone labour market downturn is not yet in sight. Even if the eurozone economy exits from recession later this year, the labour market is likely to remain in recession until next year," said Martin van Vliet, at ING Financial Markets.

In the wider EU area of 27 countries, unemployment stood at 11%, as the rate increased in all but nine countries compared with a year earlier.

The biggest rises in joblessness on a year ago were in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal.

But economists noted that the increase in unemployment was fairly broad-based with rises in so-called core countries as well, including Belgium and the Netherlands, while French unemployment held at 11%.

"Eurozone unemployment has now risen for 24 successive months and by a total of 3.853 million since starting to trend up in May 2011," said Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight.

"About the only positive spin that could be put on the eurozone unemployment data is that the rise has shown some signs of slowing overall in recent months. The increase has averaged 82,000 a month over the past three months compared to an overall average monthly increase of 158,000 in 2012."

Ireland recorded one of the biggest drops in unemployment, down to 13.5% from 14.9% a year ago. That compares with a rate of 7.7% for the UK, where youth unemployment is 20.2%.

The lowest rates for youth unemployment were in Germany at 7.5% and Austria at 8%. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds