Euro zone unemployment at record high in May

Monday 01 July 2013 13.50
19.22 million people unemployed in May in the euro zone
19.22 million people unemployed in May in the euro zone

Unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro hit another all-time high in May following revisions to the previous months' data, official figures showed today.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said euro zone unemployment rose 0.1 percentage point in May to 12.1%.

That is a new record for the region as the previous months' rates were revised down, including April's original 12.2% estimate.

A spokesman for the statistics office said the revisions arose because of findings in its quarterly labour force survey, which provides key insights into the working population.

Across the euro zone, there were 19.22 million people unemployed in May, 67,000 higher than the previous month.

Unemployment in the euro zone has been rising as the region has remained stuck in recession since late 2011.

Figures next month will show whether the euro zone remained in recession during the second quarter of the year - the seventh quarter in a row. Most economists think it will be a close call.

While countries such as Germany have seen their economies prosper, those at the forefront of Europe's debt crisis, such as Greece and Spain, have seen economic contraction on a massive scale.

Greece and Spain also have the highest unemployment rates in the euro zone. Spain's unemployment was 26.9%, while Greece's rate in March - its statistics are compiled on different timeframes - was 26.8%.

Both countries are also mired in a youth unemployment crisis. Spain's rate was 56.5% while Greece's was 59.2%.

Meanwhie, Eurostat said inflation picked up to 1.6% in the year to June, up from 1.4% the previous month. The rate remains below the European Central Bank's target of keeping price increases just below 2%.

The ECB is meeting this Thursday to decide what more it can do to shore up the euro zone's economy. The main interest rate though is expected to remain at the record low of 0.5%.