Euro zone jobless rate at record 11%


Joblessness in the euro zone rose to a new record high in May, pushed up by lay-offs in France, Spain and even stable Austria, as the debt crisis continued to eat away at the currency region’s fragile economy.

Around 17.56 million people were out of work in the 17-country bloc in May, or 11.1 per cent of the working population, a new high since euro area records began in 1995, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said.

Spain has the highest unemployment at 24.6 per cent, with more than one in two people under 25 without work. Greece was next at 21.9 per cent, followed by Latvia at 15.3 per cent and Portugal at 15.2 per cent in May. Ireland has the fifth highest unemployment in the area with a rate of 14.6 per cent. Austria has the lowest rate of joblessness at 4.1 per cent.

European leaders agreed a growth and jobs pact to inject €120 billion into the EU economy at a summit last week, but economists say only economic reforms and resolution of the debt crisis can end the downturn. Many economists expect the European Central Bank to cut interest rates, possibly as early as this week, to boost lending to the euro zone’s economy.