Eurozone unemployment falls further

Brussels – Seasonally-adjusted unemployment in the 19-member eurozone dropped to 8.5 per cent in February, down from 8.6 per cent the month before, according to the EU’s statistical office.

The figure in February marks the lowest level of unemployment since December 2008, Eurostat said, noting that the number of people without jobs fell to just over 13.9 million in the euro area.

Joblessness in the European Union as a whole stood at 7.1 per cent in February, which is a decrease from 7.2 per cent in January. The February figure is the lowest since September 2008.

Europe’s economic recovery

Countries with the lowest unemployment rates were the Czech Republic (2.4 per cent), Germany and Malta (both 3.5 per cent). The highest rates were recorded in Greece (20.8 per cent in December 2017, the latest data available) and Spain (16.1 per cent).

By comparison, unemployment in the United States was at 4.1 per cent in February.

Despite falling unemployment levels in the EU, youth unemployment still remained high with a rate of 15.9 per cent in the EU as a whole and 17.7 per cent in the eurozone.

Joblessness among people under the age of 25 was a “big big problem” that the EU needed to solve, acknowledged European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein.

Low unemployment rate among young people

“The level of youth unemployment in a number of countries is unacceptably high,” he said.

In Greece, the figure stood at 45 per cent in December, the latest data available. Spain recorded a youth unemployment rate of 35.5 per cent in February, while Italy had a 32.8-per-cent rate.

Winterstein noted that while the commission was making targeted proposals and was trying to boost investments, bringing down youth unemployment was primarily the task of member states.

Winterstein added that not having jobs was making it difficult for young people “to be enthusiastic about Europe in general.”

“What they want to have is a job, and member states’ governments need to do everything they can do to achieve that,” he said.