Euro zone unemployment climbed to a new record high of 11.1% in May, with Spain the hardest hit at 24.6%, official figures showed today.

More than 17.5 million people were jobless in the euro zone in May, as 88,000 more men and women joined unemployment queues, according to Eurostat data agency.

Unemployment in April stood at 11% for the second month in a row, then the highest level since the creation of the monetary union in 1999.

In May, youth unemployment surged again with 3.4 million people under 25 looking for work, an increase of 254,000 from 12 months earlier.

Unemployment in the euro zone has remained above 10% for 13 months in a row as the bloc struggles to revive economies contaminated by a debt crisis now in its third year and threatening large members, Spain and Italy.

At a summit last week, European leaders agreed on a growth pact to accompany an austerity drive that some say has choked the economy. In the wider 27-nation European Union, unemployment rose to 10.3% against 10.2% in April, the same level as in March.

Some 24.86 million men and women were jobless in the EU as unemployment increased by 151,000 people.

Spain once again recorded the worst unemployment rate at 24.6%, with more than one in two people under 25 without work.

Greece was next at 21.9% in March, the latest available figures for that country, followed by Latvia at 15.3% in the first quarter and Portugal at 15.2% in May. Austria has the lowest rate at 4.1%, followed by the Netherlands at 5.1%, Luxembourg at 5.4% and Germany at 5.6%.