Eurozone unemployment continues to rise
by Daniel Mason
The eurozone's record unemployment rate has edged higher and the manufacturing sector continued to shrink across much of the single currency bloc, according to a new batch of statistics published today.
Eurostat said joblessness in the 17-nation euro area stood at 11.4 per cent in August, unchanged from July. However, the number of people out of work rose by 34,000, putting the total for the region at 18.2 million. Similarly, in the wider European Union of 27 member states, unemployment was static at 10.5 per cent – but the number of people without a job was up by 49,000 to 25.5 million.
Spain and Greece continued to suffer the highest rates of joblessness, of 25.1 per cent and 24.4 per cent respectively. In Portugal 15.9 per cent of people were out of work. Unemployment was lowest in Austria, at 4.5 per cent, Luxembourg, at 5.2 per cent, and the Netherlands, at 5.3 per cent.
Meanwhile 55.4 per cent of young Greeks and 52.9 per cent of young Spaniards were without a job. Youth unemployment was lowest in Germany, at 8.1 per cent, and the Netherlands, at 9.4 per cent. Across the eurozone 22.8 per cent of under-25s were without a job in August.
Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "While eurozone unemployment rose to a new record high in August, the rate of increase was at least the smallest since April 2011. Unfortunately though, it is unrealistic to expect any turnaround in the near term at least eurozone jobless markets given ongoing weakened economic activity and low business confidence."
Data compiled by Markit showed that eurozone manufacturing weakened in September for the eleventh month in a row. The index stood at 46.1 last month – where any figure below 50 represents a contraction. Germany recorded a reading of 47.4, the sixth decline in a row but the best figure since March. Manufacturing also shrank in Italy, Austria, Spain, France, and Greece – but there was some growth in Ireland and the Netherlands.
Archer added: "With the eurozone seemingly suffering further gross domestic product contraction in the third quarter and in grave danger of another drop in the fourth quarter – and with overall eurozone business confidence taking a further serious hit in September to be the weakest level for nearly three years in several sectors – the likelihood is that eurozone unemployment is headed significantly higher."
Capital Economics' Jennifer McKeown said: "In all, today's data suggest that the industrial sector is experiencing a sharp downturn and with unemployment at a record high, the outlook for the consumer is gloomy too. We still see eurozone GDP falling by a far weaker than consensus 2.5 per cent next year.