Eurozone unemployment hits new high in May


By Pan Pylas, AP

LONDON–Unemployment in the 17-country euro currency bloc hit another record in May as the crippling financial crisis pushed the continent toward the brink of recession, official figures showed Monday. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said unemployment rose to 11.1 percent in May from 11 percent the previous month. May’s rate was the highest since the euro was launched in 1999 and adds further urgency to the eurozone countries’ plan to create economic growth and cut excessive government debt. In total, 17.6 million people were out of work in the eurozone in May, up 88,000 on the month before and 1.8 million more than the level a year earlier. There are huge disparities across the eurozone, however. The highest unemployment rate across the eurozone was recorded in Spain, where 24.6 percent of people were out of work in May. Even more dramatically, 52.1 percent of the country’s youth were unemployed. Greece’s youth unemployment rate also stands at 52.1 percent at last count in March.

Other countries in the eurozone, particularly those in the north, are faring better. Germany’s unemployment rate stood at only 5.6 percent. And its youth unemployment rate stood at only 7.9 percent, markedly lower than the more than one in two unemployed in both Greece and Spain.

However, a raft of economic indicators in recent weeks have shown that Europe’s biggest economy is not immune to the problems in the rest of the region. Germany’s exports to other countries in the eurozone are under pressure and business confidence is waning.

Across the wider 27-country European Union, which includes non-euro countries such as Britain and Poland, unemployment edged up to 10.3 percent in May from 10.2 percent the month before.