- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Euro unemployment spikes to record 10.8 percent
Question of the Day
LONDON — The number of people looking for work in the 17 countries that use the euro hit its highest level since the currency was introduced back in 1999, official figures showed Monday, adding to fears that the region is in recession.
Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, said unemployment in the eurozone rose to 10.8 percent in February from 10.7 percent the previous month. The number of unemployed totaled 17.1 million, nearly 1.5 million higher than the same month a year ago. Of the 17 countries in the eurozone, seven countries had unemployment rates of above 10 per cent.
The figures stand in marked contrast to the U.S. — with an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent — which has recorded solid increases in the number of people finding work over the past few months.
The eighth straight month of rising unemployment will likely reinforce concerns that the eurozone is in recession just as many countries pursue austerity measures to get a handle on their crippling debt loads.
Spain, whose government announced another raft of austerity measures last Friday, had the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone of 23.6 percent, with youth unemployment — those under 25 years of age — standing at 50.5 percent. The lowest rate among the euro countries was Austria’s 4.2 percent. Greece, Portugal and Ireland — the three countries that have already received a debt bailout — had unemployment rates of 21 percent, 15 percent and 14.7 percent respectively.
With unemployment rising at a time of austerity, consumers have been reluctant to spend and that’s been holding back the eurozone economy despite signs of life elsewhere, notably in the U.S. and in emerging markets.
“Soaring unemployment is clearly adding to the pressure on household incomes from aggressive fiscal tightening in the region’s periphery,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics.
She warned that the situation is likely to get worse and that even in Germany, where unemployment held at 5.7 percent, “survey measures of hiring point to a downturn to come.”
Figures earlier indicating a bigger-than-anticipated downturn in manufacturing only added to the gloom surrounding the eurozone economy. Financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers index — a gauge of business activity — fell to a three-month low of 47.7 in March from the previous month’s 49 — anything below 50 indicates a contraction.
Markit said Germany and France, the eurozone’s two powerhouse economies, saw activity levels deteriorate. France, in particular, fared worse with activity at a 33-month low of 46.7. Only Austria and Ireland saw output increase during the month.
Across the eurozone, Markit said, new orders contracted at a faster rate than in February and that led to further job losses.
The manufacturing sector is vital for Europe’s economic growth at a time when many countries are implementing austerity measures to get a handle on their debts.
Following a 0.3 percent quarterly contraction in the eurozone’s economy in the fourth quarter of 2011, analysts said the manufacturing data show that the region is more likely to fall back into recession — technically defined as two quarters of negative growth.
“It looks odds-on that eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012 …. thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight. “And the prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy.”
Markets across Europe Monday gave up their early gains on the news of the two reports with the Stoxx 50 of leading European shares down 0.2 percent, having opened moderately higher on upbeat data from China.
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors