EU unemployment climbs to new high
Brussels, June 1, 2013
Euro zone unemployment hit a fresh high in April for the 24th month, deepening the plight of the jobless young and raising analyst calls for a cut in interest rates.
The latest picture from the Eurostat data agency offered little hope of a quick exit from recession for Europe's "lost generation" of under-25s.
As the economy struggled and 95,000 more people joined dole queues between March and April across the 17-nation euro zone, the unemployment rate edged up to a record 12.2 per cent, or 19.3 million people, the Eurostat data agency said.
The data brought more bad news for young people who overall are especially hard-hit by the sluggish economy, nearly three times more likely than older people to be unemployed.
"Even if the euro zone economy exits from recession later this year, the labour market is likely to remain in recession until next year," said ING bank analyst Martin Van Vliet.
Inflation rose to 1.4 per cent in May from 1.2 per cent in April, the first time in months that the reading has increased, but still well below the European Central Bank's target of just below 2 per cent, triggering fresh calls for the ECB to cut its rates to revive growth.
"There remains a compelling case for monetary easing," said Van Vliet.
The euro zone is in its longest recession ever and concern is mounting over the growing numbers of jobless youth amid fears they will never get on the careers ladder.
In the 12 months to April, almost 200,000 young people joined dole queues in the euro zone and 100,000 in the full 27-nation European Union.
Total youth unemployment was at 5.6 million (23.5 per cent) in the full EU and 3.6 million (24.4 per cent) in the euro zone.
But in Greece in April, two out of three youngsters were without jobs, one out of two in Spain and two out of five in Italy and Portugal.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy last week urged EU leaders to come up with a plan at a summit next month to address "one of the most pressing issues in most, if not all, of our member states."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called a meeting in Berlin on July 3 with labour ministers from all member states on youth unemployment and this week France and Germany unveiled a plan to combat joblessness among the young.-Reuters