Ireland continues to have the fifth highest unemployment rate in the European Union, according to data from the statistical agency EuroStat.

Spain and Greece have the highest rates of unemployment, with Austria and the Netherlands having the lowest percentage in the EU. 

Seasonally adjusted Eurostat figures for June show that unemployment increased by around 1% across the EU over the past year.

Ireland's unemployment rate stands at 14.8%, the figures reveal. Irish under-25s had a 29.2% unemployment rate, unchanged from June 2011.

Irish men had an unemployment rate of 17.7%, almost the same as June 2011 (17.6%).

However, women's unemployment rate was 11.2%, up from 10.5% in June of last year.

Spain has the highest rate of joblessness in the euro zone with a rate of 24.8%. Austria has the lowest rate with just 4.5% out of work.

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in seven member states, increased in 19 and remained stable in Sweden.

The largest falls were observed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

July euro zone inflation remains static

Meanwhile, inflation in the euro zone remained steady for the third month in a row in July.

But this offered little comfort to consumers as the number of people out of work continues to climb and the unemployment rate hit a record high.

Consumer prices in the euro zone rose 2.4% in July on an annual basis, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said today.

This maintained a level first touched in May as Brent crude fell sharply and brought prices down.

Inflation is seen coming into line with the European Central Bank's target of just below 2% by the end of the year, unless oil prices rise sharply, and ECB President Mario Draghi said in early July the rate is slowing faster than forecast.

The lack of pressure on prices has given the ECB, which has a mandate to maintain price stability in the euro zone, some room to move. The bank cut its interest rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 0.75% and its deposit rate to zero in July.

The ECB's August meeting this Thursday, typically a low-key affair during the European summer, will be intensely watched for any signs that Draghi is willing to do more to help reduce the high cost of money for governments and banks in Spain and Italy.

Draghi surprised investors last week by saying the bank was "ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro", but it is unclear whether major new steps will be announced soon or later this year.

Steady, rather than falling, consumer prices are of little bonus to European households suffering what is set to be the bloc's second recession in just three years.

Meanwhile, another 123,000 people were out of work in euro zone in June, Eurostat said in a separate release, putting the unemployment rate at 11.2% of the working population - a new euro-era high.

That number was the same as May, after Eurostat revised up the data for that month from an earlier reading of 11.1%.

But the number also disguised wide divergences, with unemployment as low as 4.5% in Austria and 24.8% in Spain, the highest level in the bloc.

Spain slid deeper into recession in the second quarter as a tough new round of austerity to head off the budget crisis that threatens the euro affected both overall demand and the prices consumers have to pay for goods.

France, the euro zone's second largest economy, also saw unemployment rise in June to 10.1%. France's biggest phone equipment supplier, Alcatel-Lucent , and car maker Peugeot Citroen have both announced major job cuts as they struggle with losses.

Economists see signs that the strong German economic engine of growth is succumbing to the weakening effects of the euro zone crisis. In separately released data, more Germans were without a job in July although the employment rate was stable at 6.8%.