The euro zone unemployment rate continued near record highs at 12.1% in November, unchanged from the October level, as a modest recovery produced few new jobs, official data show.

There were about 19.24 million jobless in the euro zone in November.

This was up 4,000 from October, but soared by 452,000 compared with November 2012 as the debt crisis peaked, the Eurostat statistics agency said.

Euro zone unemployment hit a record 12.2% in September but this figure was subsequently revised down to 12.1%.

In the 28-member European Union, the unemployment rate was also flat, at 10.9%, but the jobless numbers rose 19,000 to 26.55 million in November and were up 278,000 compared with a year earlier.

The lowest unemployment rates were found in Austria with 4.8% and economic powerhouse Germany, which had a rate of 5.2%.

Twice-bailed out Greece was the highest at 27.4%, based on the latest figures available from September, while Spain was close behind on 26.7%.

Unemployment for those aged 16-25 also continued at very high levels, a constant cause of concern amid talk of a lost generation as governments cut spending to balance strained public finances.

The euro zone's 16-25 unemployment rate was unchanged at 24.2% in November but in the EU it rose to 23.6% from 23.5% in October.

Worst affected in this category were Spain on 57.7% in November followed by Greece on 54.8%. Germany was the lowest on 7.5% followed by Austria with 8.6%.

Jobless rate hits new record in Italy

Italy's unemployment rate reached a new record high of 12.7% in November from 12.5 percent in October, the official data agency Istat said today. 

Unemployment among 15-24-year-olds also rose to 41.6% - the highest level since records began.

The number of unemployed people in Italy is now 3.254 million, an increase of 351,000 from November 2012.

The figures underlined the scale of the challenges for Prime Minister Enrico Letta even after the end of the country's longest post-war recession in the third quarter of 2013.

Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) has contracted by more than four percentage points over the past two years and public debt has continued to rise. Istat says the economy will grow by 0.7% in 2014.

Euro zone retail sales rebound in November

Euro zone retail sales, a proxy for consumer demand, rebounded 1.4% on the month in November after a 0.4% decline in October, showing the fastest monthly increasesince November 2001.

Compared with the same time in 2012, the volume of sales rose 1.6% after a 0.3% fall in October, delivering the strongest rise since February 2008. The monthly expansion was led by a 1.9% rise in the volume of sales of all non-food products, except car fuels. 

The bloc's two largest economies - Germany and France - showed a 1.5% and 2.1% growth in sales respectively in November, despite a deterioration in French consumer and businesses morale in November. 

In Portugal and Spain sales continued to improve in November, with the volume rising 3.1% on the month, the strongest in the entire euro zone, and 1.9% respectively.