The euro zone unemployment rate hit an all-time record of 10.7% in January, the latest official figures show.

The Eurostat data agency estimated that more than 16.9 million men and women were out of work in the 17-nation euro area in January after the ranks of the unemployed rose by 1.4 million compared with January 2011.

The jobless rate across the wider 27-nation European Union also climbed over the symbolic 10% ceiling to 10.1% in January compared with 10% the previous month and 9.5% in January 2011.

More than 24.3 million people were unemployed in the EU in January, an increase of 191,000 from December and of 1.488 million compared with January 2011.

The highest unemployment rate was registered once again in Spain where it rose to 23.3% in January, followed by Greece, a nation trapped in the euro zone debt crisis, at 19.9%.

Austria recorded the lowest rate at 4% followed by the Netherlands at 5% and Luxembourg at 5.1%.

Youth joblessness - people under 25 - remained more or less steady at more than 5.5 million across the EU, or 22.4%, and to more than 3.3 million in the euro zone, or 21.6%. Youth unemployment had stood at 21.1% in the EU and 20.6% in the euro zone last year.

Meanwhile, euro zone inflation crept up to 2.7% in February, official figures showed today after a slight downwards revision the previous month.

The European Union figure marks the 15th month in a row in which inflation was above the European Central Bank's target for price stability of below or close to 2%, having peaked at 3% in September.