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July 22, 2013

Eurozone Debt Rising Despite Austerity Measures

by VOA News

The combined debt in the eurozone continues to grow, even as many of the 17 nations in Europe's currency bloc have adopted austerity measures to cut spending and raise taxes.

European officials say the eurozone debt level hit an all-time high in the first three months of the year, more than 92 percent of the economic output of the eurozone nations. Only two of the eurozone countries reported falling debt, economic powerhouse Germany and tiny Estonia.

Cutting spending and increasing taxes have been prescribed as the main response to the eurozone's three-year governmental debt crisis. Five countries have secured bailouts to avoid defaulting on their debts.

But as government programs have been cut, the eurozone's jobless rate has reached a record 12.2 percent and the currency bloc is stuck in an 18-month recession.

European officials in recent months have begun to advocate programs promoting job growth. But they have not cut their austerity programs, although some countries have won delays in the time needed to improve their economies to meet Europe-wide standards.