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Job seekers wearing protective face masks visit a National Agency for Employment (Pole Emploi) office in Nice on May 18, 2020.

ERIC GAILLARD/Reuters

Unemployment in the euro zone edged up only slightly and by less than expected in May as lockdowns gradually eased, although the rise was more pronounced for women and youths.

The seasonally adjusted rate increased to 7.4 per cent in May from 7.3 per cent in April and 7.1 per cent in March, the lowest level since records began in 1998.

May brought the second consecutive monthly rise, but it was less than the market expectation of 7.7 per cent.

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The only modest increase suggests furlough schemes providing temporary layoff are keeping many of those laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic out of the main unemployment records, although a number of these schemes will start to taper.

The situation was worse for women and youths.

Unemployment for people aged under 25 rose to 16.0 per cent in May from 15.7 per cent in April and 15.0 per cent in March, a 19-year low. In Spain, about a third of young people were without a job.

For women, the jobless rate rose to 7.9 per cent from 7.7 per cent in April. For men, it was unchanged at 7.0 per cent.

Separately, Eurostat said industrial producer prices fell by 0.6 per cent month-on-month in May and by 5.0 per cent year-on-year, steeper than the market consensus of down 0.5 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Energy prices fell by the most, but no component of the index rose month-on-month. Prices for capital goods and durable consumer goods were unchanged. These two categories, along with non-durable consumer goods, were modestly up year-on-year.

Producer prices are a key factor shaping consumer inflation, which the European Central Bank wants to keep below but close to 2 per cent over the medium term, as changes in prices at factory gates largely translate into the final cost for consumers.

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