Euro zone unemployment rate reaches record high
The European Union’s statistics agency has today announced unemployment in the 16-member euro zone rose to 10.1% in April – the first time it has reached this level since the common currency was introduced in 1999.
The rise in the jobless rate highlights the sluggish recovery within the euro zone.
Eurostat said 15.86 million people were unemployed in the euro zone during April.
Meanwhile, in the 27-nation European Union, the unemployment rate rose to 9.7% with a total of 23.3 million people unemployed.
Spain has the euro zone’s highest rate of unemployment at just over 20% – the country has been hit by a severe slump within its key construction industry, which has led to a significant amount of job losses.
Latvia, which is not a member of the euro zone, has the highest rate of the EU, with unemployment at 22.5% of the population.
Germany is the only country to have seen its rate of unemployment fall over the last 12 months. The country‘s job market is much stronger than in many other countries and many believe it is the result of the “Kurzarbeit” scheme, introduced by the German Government, designed to prevent mass redundancies.
Meanwhile, there are concerns for the euro as it continues to fall. It has hit a four-year low against the US dollar, falling to $1.2111 at one point. It also fell against sterling – to a 12-month low of €1.1935.
This is primarily due to the ongoing concerns about the European financial sector’s ability to survive the euro zone debt crisis.