Thursday

21st Mar 2019

Eurozone unemployment down first time since 2011

  • Unemployment in Greece and Spain is now five times higher than in Austria and Germany (Photo: Wonderlane)

Unemployment in the eurozone fell for the first time since February 2011, according to figures released on Friday (29 November).

The jobless rate fell to 12.1 percent in October 2013, according to EU statistical agency Eurostat, down from 12.2 percent in September, leaving 19.3 million people out of work. The unemployment rate across the entire EU was unchanged at 10.9 percent.

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Both rates are higher than in October 2012, when they were 11.7 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

However, the picture varies dramatically across the currency union, particularly between the northern countries and those in the southern periphery.

Greece and Spain had the highest jobless total at 27.3 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively - more than five times higher than Austria and Germany, who had the lowest.

For its part, Ireland, which will exit its three year bailout programme at the end of the year, saw its unemployment rate fall from 14.5 percent to 12.6 percent, a fall exceeded only by Latvia.

Meanwhile, on a mixed day for the eurozone economies, the Netherlands became the latest eurozone country to lose its triple-A credit rating from rating agency Standard and Poor's.

Germany, Finland and Luxembourg are now the only remaining countries to hold the top-rating.

However, there was better news for Spain and Cyprus.

Standard and Poor's uprated Spain's economic outlook to "stable" after data showed that its economy grew in the third quarter of 2013 after more than two years of recession.

In a statement, Standard and Poor's, one of the three biggest rating agencies, said that its move was "due to budgetary and structural reforms, coupled with supportive eurozone policies."

Spain, too, is set to exit a €41 billion bailout of its banks in January.

Cyprus, meanwhile, saw its credit rating upgraded to B- by the same agency, moving the country four notches away from 'default' status.

Since accepting a €10 billion bailout in March, and becoming the first eurozone country to bring in capital controls, Cyprus has been praised by its creditors for its implementation of economic reforms.

It is expected to remain in recession until 2015.

EU bumps up growth forecast, amid jobless recovery

The European Commission has revised upwards slightly its growth forecast for the eurozone and the whole of the EU in 2011. However, the good news is tempered with the knowledge that the employment situation has remained effectively flat since last January.

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