The unemployment rate in the 17 countries that use the euro currency has hit a record high. The jobless rate rose to 12 percent in January and February of 2013, adding to signs that the region’s economic slump may not be over.
The employment situation is uneven across the EU area. Austria and Germany have the lowest unemployment rates at 4.8 percent and 5.4 percent respectively, while the jobless rates in Spain and Greece both top 26 percent.
Raoul Ruparel, of the Open Europe think tank, says the difference in employment comes down to public debt levels and austerity cuts to the public sector.
“If you look at Greece and Spain, where they are cutting spending drastically, and the [state] may be 50 percent of the economy, it’s bound to have an effect,” Ruparel says. “There is bound to be unemployment as the public sector lays off its workers.”
While these unemployment figures don’t necessarily indicate what’s ahead, analysts believe the future doesn’t look very promising either with trouble now flaring in small member states like Cyprus.
Euro unemployment in February 2013 (seasonally adjusted) via Eurostat:
1. Austria 4.5%
2. Germany 5.4%
3. Luxembourg 5.5%
4. Netherlands 6.2%
5. Malta 6.6%
(United States 7.7%)
6. Finland 8.1%
7. Slovenia 9.7%
8. Estonia 9.9% (Jan 2013)
9. France 10.8%
10. Italy 11.6%
11. Belgium 12.5%
12. Cyprus 14%
13. Ireland 14.2%
14. Slovakia 14.6%
15. Portugal 17.5%
16. Spain 26.3
17. Greece 26.4 (Dec 2012)
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