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Eurozone jobless rate reaches record high

BRUSSELS — The rate of unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high of 12 per cent in February, official figures have shown.

The number of people unemployed in the 17 member states rose by 33,000 during the month, to hit 19.07 million, the statistics agency Eurostat said.

The highest rate was 26.4 per cent in Greece, although the most recent figure for the country was from December.

Separately, figures confirmed a deterioration in the eurozone’s manufacturing sector in March.

The jobless figures from Eurostat also showed that Spain’s unemployment rate hit 26.3 per cent in February, while the rate in Portugal remained stable at 17.5 per cent.

The lowest rates were recorded in Austria (4.8 per cent) and Germany (5.4 per cent), both unchanged from January. The overall unemployment rate for the eurozone in January was revised up from 11.9 per cent to 12 per cent.

Across the 27 member states of the European Union, the unemployment rate rose to 10.9 per cent, up from 10.8 per cent the previous month.

The fresh high in the unemployment rate “is further confirmation of the underlying weakness of the economy”, said Jennifer McKeown at Capital Economics.

“The rise in unemployment was the 22nd in a row, making this labour market downturn the most prolonged since the early 1990s.”

There was further gloomy news from the eurozone’s manufacturing sector, as a survey indicated that manufacturing activity fell to a three-month low in March. (BBC)

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