EU jobless total at fresh dire record

EU and eurozone year-on-year unemployment rates jumped significantly in November, data released on Tuesday shows.

Story highlights

  • Eurozone unemployment hit a fresh record of 11.8% in November, official statistics show
  • Across all 27 members of the EU, some 26m people were out of work in November
  • Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal saw the biggest year-on-year increases in unemployment
  • Youth unemployment also rose, hitting roughly 24% both in the euro area and the EU

Eurozone unemployment hit a fresh record of 11.8 per cent in November, official statistics showed on Tuesday, highlighting the dire state of the bloc's economy in spite of hopes for a gradual recovery this year.

Across all 27 members of the EU, some 26m people were out of work in November, or 10.7 per cent of the workforce, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistical office. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for both the eurozone and the wider EU jumped significantly from a year earlier, when they were 10.6 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

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The crisis-hit countries of Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal saw the biggest increases in unemployment compared with a year earlier. Youth unemployment also rose further, hitting roughly 24 per cent both in the euro area and the EU. Spanish joblessness hit 26.6 per cent in November, up from 26.2 per cent in October and 23 per cent a year ago.

An improvement in financial markets and forward-looking economic indicators has fuelled hopes that the acute phase of Europe's sovereign debt crisis may be drawing to a close, but the region's economy remains precariously balanced.

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Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank's rate-setting governing council is expected to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.75 per cent, according to polls of economists by Bloomberg and Reuters, but there is likely to be discussion over whether more action is required.

The European Commission also released its monthly business and consumer confidence survey, which improved for the second consecutive month in December, but remained well below its long term average.

"While the lull in the debt crisis has continued, the eurozone's economic outlook remains very weak," Jonathan Loynes, chief economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, November trade figures showed a sharp fall in exports and imports, bolstering expectations that it slid into contraction in the fourth quarter, although it is expected to return to growth in the present period. A first official estimate of German growth for the fourth quarter and 2012 is due to be published on January 15.

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