Broken (record) jobless data: Euro zone unemployment stuck at all-time high

July 2, 2013

Surprise! Euro zone unemployment was stuck at record high of 12.2 percent in May, with the number of jobless quickly climbing towards 20 million. Still, as accustomed to grim job market headlines from Europe as the world has become, it is worth perusing through the Eurostat release for some of the nuances in the figures.

For one thing, as Matthew Phillips notes, Spain’s unemployment crisis is now officially more dire than Greece’s – and that’s saying something.

Also, the figures remind us just how disparate conditions are across different parts of the currency union. While Spanish and Greek unemployment is hovering just below 27 percent, the jobless rate in Austria, the region’s lowest, is 4.7 percent.

Contrast that with another prominent monetary union, albeit one that is accompanied by fiscal federalism – the United States. There is still a wide divergence, but not nearly as large, with energy-rich North Dakota at just 3.2 percent and Nevada at the top of the heap with 9.5 percent.

Here’s more on the European situation from Eurostat:

Eurostat estimates that 26.405 million men and women in the EU-27, of whom 19.222 million were in the euro area (EA-17), were unemployed in May 2013. Compared with April 2013, the number of persons unemployed increased by 16.000 in the EU-27 and by 67.000 in the euro area. Compared with May 2012, unemployment rose by 1 324 000 in the EU-27 and by 1 344 000 in the euro area.

The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1 % in May 2013, up from 12.0 % in April, it was 11.3 % in May 2012. The EU-27 unemployment rate was 10.9 % in May 2013, stable compared with April; it was 10.4 % in May 2012.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.7 %), Germany (5.3 %) and Luxembourg (5.7 %), and the highest rates in Spain (26.9 %) and Greece (26.8 % in March 2013).

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate increased in seventeen Member States and fell in ten. The highest increases were registered in Cyprus (11.4 % to 16.3 %), Greece (22.2 % to 26.8 % between March 2012 and March 2013) and Slovenia (8.6 % to 11.2 %). The largest decreases were observed in Latvia (15.5 % to 12.4 % between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013), Estonia (10.0 % to 8.3 % between April 2012 and April 2013) and Lithuania (13.3 % to 11.7 %).

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