News / Europe

Eurozone Unemployment Soars to New High

A young couple approach an employment agency in Milan, Italy, April 2, 2012.
A young couple approach an employment agency in Milan, Italy, April 2, 2012.
Lisa BryantVOA News
The 17-nation eurozone has started 2013 on a grim note, with new statistics showing November unemployment at an all-time high.  

There is optimism the worst of the eurozone crisis is over, but the latest figures published by the European Union's statistical service offers a dose of reality.

​Eurostat's November figures show unemployment in the eurozone currency union climbing to a record 11.8 percent - up 0.1 percent from October, and more than a percentage point from a year ago.

Deputy director Guntram Wolff, of Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel, predicts 2013 will be another tough year for the eurozone.

"I think it sends a clear message that the economic crisis is still there and certainly we still have a major problem with our structural unemployment, with the business cycle situation, with the general economic outlook," he said.

Roughly 19 million people living in the currency union are out of work, two million more than a year ago. Unemployment is highest in two of Europe's most indebted economies, Spain and Greece, with more than a quarter of their populations out of work.

Austria, Luxembourg and Germany score the best, with the respective jobless rates at just 4.5 percent, 5.1 percent and 5.4 percent. France ranks roughly in the middle of the 17-nation currency union, with 10.7 percent unemployed in November, which is also the average for the entire 27-member European Union.

Youth hardest hit

The region's youth are the hardest hit. Nearly one-quarter of young, working-age Europeans are out of a job. In Greece and Spain, nearly six in 10 can not find work.

"I am really afraid that we have a generation that is, in a sense, a lost generation," Wolff said. "Because at that age, if you are unemployed, you will lose not just one or two years of your lifetime job, but you will really lose confidence in yourself for your entire life."

Some analysts predict unemployment will rise this year, suggesting the eurozone's problems are far from over.  

Jennifer McKeown, the senior European economist at Capital Economics in London, said she sees the jobless rate continuing to increase and that it could easily top 12 percent in the coming months.

"Lately, we have seen the rate increases have slowed a bit, which is broadly encouraging," she said. "But I suggest there are various public sector job cuts still in the pipeline and while the rate at which that is happening might be slowing in economies like Greece or like Portugal, it’s hitting harder now in core economies like France, so I think it’s fairly likely unemployment will continue rising."

McKeown said the jobless numbers point to a sharp divide in the economic fortunes of the eurozone nations, with countries on the geographic periphery performing much worse than those in the northern reaches of the currency bloc.

She added the divergence between the economies is nowhere clearer in the eurozone than in unemployment figures in Spain, for example, where the rate is over 26 percent, whereas Austrian unemployment is down at 4.5 percent.

"That’s just a massive divergence and I think its shows the eurozone is a very varied economy and it was bound to be very difficult to bring all the size economies together," McKeown said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs