Euro zone unemployment 2.5% higher than in the US

LONDON | Jobless rates gave Monday a nasty reminder of an ongoing credit crisis whose effects seem to have depressed further the economies in the developed countries. The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.8% in February 2012, compared with 10.7% a month earlier. It was 10.0% in February 2011. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.2% in February 2012, compared with 10.1% in January. It was 9.5% in February 2011.

The statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat, published Monday its estimates revealing that 24.550 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 17.134 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in February 2012. Compared with January 2012, the number of persons unemployed increased by 167,000 in the EU27 and by 162,000 in the euro area. Compared with February 2011, unemployment rose by 1.874 million in the EU27 and by 1.476 million in the euro area.

In February 2012, the unemployment rate was 8.3% in the USA. In January 2012 it was 4.7% in Japan.

Among the European Union member states, peripheral countries fared worse. The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.9%), Luxembourg (5.2%) and Germany (5.7%), and the highest in Spain (23.6%) and Greece (21.0% in December 2011).

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in eight member states, increased in eighteen and remained stable in Romania. The largest falls were observed in Lithuania (17.5% to 14.3% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011), Latvia (17.0% to 14.6% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011) and Estonia (13.9% to 11.7% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011). The highest increases were registered in Greece (14.3% to 21.0% between December 2010 and December 2011), Spain (20.6% to 23.6%) and Cyprus (6.7% to 9.7%).

Between February 2011 and February 2012, the unemployment rate for males increased from 9.7% to 10.7% in the euro area and from 9.4% to 10.1% in the EU27. The female unemployment rate rose from 10.3% to 11.0% in the euro area and from 9.6% to 10.2% in the EU27.

In February 2012, 5.462 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU27, of whom 3.272 million were in the euro area. Compared with February 2011, youth unemployment increased by 262 000 in the EU27 and by 106 000 in the euro area. In February 2012, the youth unemployment rate was 22.4% in the EU27 and 21.6% in the euro area. In February 2011 it was 21.0% and 20.5% respectively. The lowest rates were observed in Germany (8.2%), Austria (8.3%) and the Netherlands (9.4%), and the highest in Spain (50.5%) and Greece (50.4% in December 2011).

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