Around 18.91 million people were jobless in the 18-nation bloc in
March, 22,000 less than in February, or 11.8 percent of the working
population, the EU statistics office Eurostat said on Friday.
That is slightly down from the record 12-percent level a year ago,
while the 11.8 percent reading was the same as in February. The
February reading was revised down by Eurostat from 11.9 percent
Joblessness has been stuck at almost 19 million people for the last
four months and shows the human impact of the worst financial crisis
in a generation, but it also varies widely across the euro zone.
Austrian and German unemployment levels were around 5 percent in
March, compared to almost 13 percent in Italy and about 25 percent
"The cross-country divergence is still very, very significant, much
more so than in other data," said Frederik Ducrozet, a senior euro
zone economist at Credit Agricole.
"There is a lag right now which is usual, but unless there is
another shock to the economy, the unemployment rate should decline,"
After two consecutive years of recession, the euro zone's economy is
growing again and areas such as manufacturing are reflecting that as
new orders rise.
But households are among the last to feel the benefits, which is
having a knock-on effect on consumer prices that are in the European
Central Bank's "danger zone" of below 1 percent and have raised
concerns about damaging deflation in the bloc.
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Faced with inflation rates running far below target, the ECB has
opened the door to money printing with so-called "quantitative
easing" (QE) to boost the euro zone economy, which is growing at a
slower rate than much of the rest of the world.
A fall in unemployment could make QE less likely, economists say.
"The (pending) job creation in the euro zone should help end the
discussion of deflation risks," said Nikolaus Keis, an economist at
For further details of Eurostat data,
(Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)
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