By Adam Walker - Unemployment across the imperilled eurozone hit a record 18 million in July, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said. Some 88,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed throughout July, well over 100 people per hour.
The 18,002,000 jobless total was the highest since records began in 1995, and has left the European Commission fretting over potential unrest on the streets of Europe's capitals.
Upwardly revised June data meant that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 11.3 per cent, but an estimated 25.254 million were listed as unemployed across the whole of the EU.
The eurozone is faring far worse than its main international economic rivals: Japan's unemployment rate was flat at 4.3 per cent in July even as the US rate rose to 8.3 per cent. The highest unemployment rate in the eurozone was in Spain, at 25.1 per cent. The lowest was in Austria, at 4.5 per cent.
The highest unemployment increases were registered in Greece (16.8 per cent to 23.1 per cent), Spain (21.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent) and Cyprus (7.7 per cent to 10.9 per cent).
Spain and Greece, which are struggling to tackle sovereign debt and banking crises, recorded jobless rates of more than 50 per cent in the under-25s age-group. A European Commission spokesman said the jobless numbers were now at a ‘critical’level and would pose a ‘serious threat to social cohesion’ without concerted action.
Focused on the desperate youth unemployment, the spokesman said governments had to do everything possible to avoid a ‘lost generation’. Unemployment in Germany, often dubbed ‘Europe’s powerhouse’, rose for the fifth month in a row in August, with nearly three million out of work.
Ekkehard Ernst, a senior economist at the UN body, told a German daily paper that close to one in ten would be without a job in the country by 2014, nearly twice the current level. The 17-nation eurozone contracted 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 from the first quarter, and many economists predict it will continue shrinking between July and September.
According to research firm Markit, the eurozone is facing a fall of up to 0.6 per cent in GDP for the third quarter, which would meet the widely accepted definition of recession, i.e., two successive quarters of economic contraction.
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