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April 02, 2013

Eurozone Jobless Rate Hits Record 12 Percent

by VOA News

Unemployment across the 17-nation euro currency bloc has hit 12 percent for the first time.

The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, said Tuesday that this was the jobless rate in both January and February. In all, it estimated that more than 19 million people are unemployed in the eurozone.

A separate survey said the pace of manufacturing is continuing to decline in Europe, with jobs in that sector lost for 14 straight months.

The latest labor market report continued to show a wide disparity in the jobless rates throughout the eurozone. More than a quarter of the workforce is unemployed in both Spain and Greece, while in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, only 5.4 percent are out of work.

​​The eurozone continues to struggle to recover from its three-year government debt crisis. Just last week, the eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund approved a $13 billion bailout for Cyprus, the fifth country needing billions of dollars in rescue funds.

Cyprus is one of the smallest eurozone nations. But the bailout is expected to take a heavy toll on its economy, especially its status as a banking center that sought to attract vast sums from offshore investors looking for high interest rates and lax regulation. Some workers like George Polydorou quickly lost their jobs.

"To be honest, I lost my job a few hours ago, and unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it. No notice, no nothing. I got sacked right on the spot," said Polydorou.

Political scientist Antonis Elinas predicts the Cypriot economy will only worsen.

"The social impact is likely to be huge," said Elinas. "Unemployment is now 15 percent and it is already one of the highest in the eurozone countries, it's the fourth highest and it is probably going to go though the roof in the next few years. This is going to have a huge social impact, people, people will be left not just without jobs but without any prospects of having an income."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.