EU jobless rate decreases for first time in 2 1/2 years


LONDON — Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the number of unemployed in the eurozone fell for the first time in two and a half years in October and that consumer prices were up 0.9 percent in the year to November.

The inflation rate was up from October’s 0.7 percent and slightly ahead of market expectations for 0.8 percent. The increase will ease some concerns that the eurozone is about to face a debilitating period of falling prices, also known as deflation.

Still, inflation remains well below the ECB’s target of just under 2 percent. It was the sharp fall in October that spurred the central bank this month to cut its main interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent.

Though the overall rate masks huge disparities across the eurozone, particularly among the young, Eurostat said that the number of people unemployed in the region fell by 61,000 to 19.30 million during the month. The fall, largely a result of declines in the largest economies of Germany and France, was the first since April 2011.

The figures showed labor market conditions in weaker countries like Greece and Spain remained tough. In Greece, unemployment at last count in August was 27.3 percent, while in Spain it stood at 26.7 percent.