The euro zone unemployment rate was flat in August after easing in July for the first time in two years, showing the nascent economic recovery was starting to have a positive impact on the labour market.
The unemployment rate in the 17 countries using the euro was 12.0 per cent of the labour force for a second month in a row, just below the record 12.1 per cent in June and May, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday.
The July rate was revised to 12.0 per cent from the previously reported 12.1 per cent. Analysts polled by Reuters expected unemployment at 12.1 per cent.
But in absolute numbers, the number of people out of work still edged marginally lower to 19.178 million in August from 19.183 million in July.
The euro zone has started to emerge in the second quarter from its longest recession since its creation in 1999 and European policy makers had made the job creation their top priority for restoring sound growth.
Spain and Greece were the countries where unemployment was highest, above 25 per cent, and economists d not expected it to fall below 20 per cent in the near term.
Italy, in political turmoil threatening the survival of the shaky government led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta, saw its unemployment rate inch up to 12.2 per cent in August from 12.1 per cent in July.
Unemployment in Europe’s largest economy Germany, waiting for a new government to be formed after elections in September, stood 5.2 per cent, the second lowest in the euro zone after Austria which had with 4.9 per cent.