The euro zone unemployment rate fell to 11.7% in April, official data has shown, with notable signs of improvement in Ireland and Portugal.

About 18.75 million people remained unemployed in the 18-member euro zone in April, down 76,000 from the March level and 487,000 from a year earlier, the Eurostat statistics agency said.

The unemployment rate among youths - a huge concern in Europe's crisis-hit countries - also dipped by 0.1 points over the month to 23.5% in April. 

Over 12 months, the number of youths without work has fallen by 202,000.

"Unemployment continues to decline in the EU's 28 Member States as a whole as well as in the euro area, which is encouraging," said Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for Employment.

"However, many new jobs are precarious, and we are far from ensuring that every person has a real opportunity in the labour market," he added.

Across the 28-member European Union, 25.47 million were jobless in April, with the unemployment rate dipping by 0.1 points over the month to 10.4%.

The highest levels of unemployment were still in Greece, at 26.5% and Spain at 25.1%.

Over 12 months, Portugal's unemployment rate fell from 17.3% to 14.6%.

Ireland's rate fell from 13.7% to 11.9%.