Friday

21st Jul 2017

Eurozone unemployment hits new record

  • The spending cuts have resulted in an increasing number of protests across Europe (Photo: EUobserver)

There was more grim news for the 17-nation eurozone on Wednesday (2 May) as new figures showed that the unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent in March with a further 169,000 people losing their jobs compared to February.

The figure - translating into 17.4 million looking for work in the eurozone and the highest rate since the euro's introduction in 1999 - is up from 10.8 percent in February of this year and 9.9 percent in March 2011.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The highest jobless rate was recorded in Spain - currently battling for a sharp reduction in its budget deficit - at 24.1 percent, followed by bailout counties Greece (21.7 percent in January) and Portugal (15.3%). Meanwhile, the third largest euro economy Italy, also in the throes of budget cuts, recorded a 12-year unemployment high of 9.8 percent.

The figures are likely to fuel the current debate in the EU about whether policies to date have exacerbated the crisis by focussing too much on debt reduction through austerity measures.

The European Commission called the figures "very worrying" and said that growth was at the "heart" of its agenda.

However, it is fighting a PR battle on that front. Having initially focussed only on the need for debt reduction to appease nervous markets, it was - along with the member state leaders - a late converter to promoting growth.

It has moderated its message to one of "consolidation" backed up by "targetted" investment. It also says the most important steps to be taken are reform labour market policies and making it easier for citizens from different member states to get to where the jobs are.

Last month it came out with an ideas paper on jobs suggesting the creation of an appropriate minimum wage and urging member states to exploit job creation potential in the ICT, health and healthcare sectors.

The first occasion for the commission to become concrete will be at the end of May when it publishes a series of policy recommendations for each member state.

"The country-specific recommendations ... will be addressing the improvement of the unemployment situation in Europe as well as the fiscal and more broad economic situations," said the commission's social affairs spokesperson.

They will feed into the traditional summer summit of EU leaders in June which is to focus on growth and employment issues.

The ideological shift towards growth promotion comes even as 25 member states have committed themselves to the fiscal compact treaty - a German-driven pact that enshrines balanced budgets into national law.

This in itself has become a major issue in the French presidential election where the socialist challenger Francois Hollande has pledged to renegotiate the text to make it more growth friendly if he gets into office following Sunday's election.

The French election is being keenly followed in Germany, where some of the countries newspapers have started describing Chancellor Angela Merkel as being isolated in Europe for her attachment to austerity.

Hollande's pledge is causing interest elsewhere too. In Ireland, due to have a referendum on the fiscal discipline treaty on 31 May, some voices have suggested the poll be postponed if Hollande wins to see what an adjusted treaty would look like.

Eurozone unemployment hits new record

Eurozone unemployment reached 10.8 percent in February, the highest level since the currency was introduced in 1999. Youngsters remain the most affected, with every second Spaniard under 25 unable to find a job.

EU unemployment hits record high

Twenty three million people in the EU are struggling to find jobs, as the economic crisis and austerity cuts unfold into severe social consequences.

Greece to get €7.7bn loan next week

The ESM, the eurozone emergency fund, agreed on Friday to unblock a new tranche of aid as part of the bailout programme agreed upon in 2015.

Opinion

Greece needs a new plan

Two years into its third bailout, Greece needs to combine the necessary fiscal targets with a new vision. This can be done in the context of the ongoing industrial revolution.

Opinion

Ceta and pesticides: A citizens' rights issue

The trade agreement with Canada will begin to apply on 21 September. But there is still a potential conflict on the right to data protection vs. the right to access information.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable