Euro-zone jobless rate rises to record high

Europe's youth hit hard, with a quarter out of work and bleak demand prospects

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 4:26am


Almost one in four young Europeans was out of work in October as unemployment in the euro zone hit a record high, with more than 170,000 jobs lost as the economy slumped into recession, official data showed.

With the debt crisis further undermining sagging economies, the Eurostat data agency showed the jobless rate in the 17-nation euro zone climbing to a fresh high of 11.7 per cent in October, or more than 18 million people out of work. It was the 14th consecutive monthly record since September last year when unemployment hit 10.3 per cent.

But the future looks even bleaker for those in search of work. European Union forecasts earlier this month saw unemployment set to peak at almost 12 per cent next year due to weak domestic demand as governments continue on the path of austerity.

The year-on-year figures from Eurostat released on Friday painted a particularly dark picture for under 25s, with nearly one in four jobless both in the euro zone and the 27-nation EU - against one in five a year earlier.

Compared with October 2011, an extra 279,000 young people were out of work in the EU and 350,000 in the euro zone in October this year.

The youth unemployment rate rose to 23.9 per cent in the euro zone and to 23.4 per cent in the EU compared with 21.2 per cent and 21.9 per cent a year earlier, Eurostat said.

But in Greece, 57 per cent of under 25s were jobless in August, the latest available figures, and in Spain 55.9 per cent in October.

"Unemployment among young people has always been higher than general joblessness but the economic crisis has widened the gap further," said Katinka Barysch of the Centre for European Reform think tank.

To get a full picture of the scale of the problem, a better indicator was to count the total number of young people not in employment, education or training.

Last year, Europe had 7.5 million in that bracket aged between 15 and 24. But "there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the job crisis. And many measures will not bite until growth returns", Barysch said.

Overall, the euro zone's jobless rate of 11.7 per cent in October was up from 11.6 per cent in September, with the numbers out of work rising to 18.7 million from 18.49 million, Eurostat said.

The highest rate was recorded again in Spain, where 26.2 per cent of adults are out of work. Austria again posted the lowest rate of 4.3 per cent and benchmark Germany and the Netherlands were at 5.4 and 5.5 per cent respectively.

Countries such as Portugal registered a 12-month rise from 13.7 per cent to 16.3 per cent.

In comparison, unemployment was at 7.9 per cent in the United States in September and at 4.2 per cent in Japan.