Eurozone unemployment hits all-time high
Sydney Morning Herald— Eurozone unemployment jumped to an all-time high in February, hitting southern nations the hardest as the social toll from the debt crisis grips the 17-nation bloc, official figures showed Monday.
The jobless rate rose for the 10th consecutive month and at 10.8 percent set a 15-year record for the single currency area, according to the Eurostat data agency.
Eurozone leaders have vowed to pursue growth and jobs strategies to fend off a looming recession but they insist that unpopular budget cuts and structural reforms must continue in order to restore market confidence after two years of crisis.
In another sign that recession is gripping the region, a key survey showed that manufacturing activity dropped to a three-month low in March, with the “malaise” spreading to top economies Germany and France.
“It looks odds-on that Eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012 after a drop of 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.
“The prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy,” he said, adding that unemployment also appears “odds-on” to top 11 percent in 2012.
Eurostat estimated that more than 17.1 million men and women were out of work in February, 162,000 more than a month earlier and 1.48 million more than a year ago.