Unemployment in the euro zone fell to a 12-year low in February, the month before coronavirus containment measures began to be introduced widely across Europe. 

The jobless rate was 7.3% in the 19 countries sharing the euro zone, the lowest level since March 2008, EU statistics office Eurostat said today. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the rate to be unchanged from the 7.4% of January. 

In the 27-member European Union unemployment was 6.5% of the workforce, unchanged from January and so holding at the lowest rate recorded since the start of monthly data in February 2000. 

Eurostat estimated that 12.047 million people in the euro area and 13.984 million people in the wider EU were unemployed in February, declines of respectively 88,000 and 62,000 respectively.

Unemployment ranged from 2% in the Czech Republic and 2.9% in the Netherlands and Poland to 13.6% in Spain and 16.3% in Greece.