Eurozone unemployment falls to decade-low 7.9 percent

15:10 | 10/01/2019 Global Economy

Unemployment in the eurozone in November fell unexpectedly to its lowest rate in more than 10 years. But youth unemployment in Italy, Spain and Greece remains above 30 percent.

A job center in Milan showing an empty window for job offers

Figures for November 2018 published by the European Union's statistical office, Eurostat, on Wednesday showed unemployment in the 19 EU countries that use the euro currency dropped to 7.9 percent. It is the lowest level since October 2008 and below the 8.1 percent forecast by economists.

While the number of people in Italy and Spain without a job did drop in November, the two countries still have the highest unemployment rates in the eurozone, after Greece.

The countries with the lowest unemployment rates for November were:

  • the Czech Republic, closely linked to Germany's economy, with 1.9 percent
  • Germany, with 3.3 percent
  • the Netherlands, with 3.5 percent.

The highest unemployment rates were recorded in:

  • Greece, with 18.6 percent in September 2018 — showing a fall from 20.8 percent the previous year
  • Spain, with 14.7 percent in November.

Croatia saw the most substantial fall in unemployment year-on-year — down from 10 percent in 2017 to 7.8 percent in 2018.

Falling or steady unemployment rates

Unemployment in the euro area has been falling steadily since it went below 10 percent in September 2016. It had climbed to more than 12 percent following the 2007-08 financial crisis.

For the two economic powerhouses of the bloc, unemployment remained stable at 3.3 percent in Germany and 8.9 percent in France.

Across the 28 members of the EU, figures showed 16.4 million people were out of work in November, a fall of 107,000 from the previous month. The figures indicate unemployment remained stable at 6.7 percent in November, Eurostat estimated.

In addition, the figures on youth unemployment predicted that Germany's economy might be going into recession with declines in factory orders, industrial production and exports.

A senior economist at ING bank told AP that the decline was a relief as "it indicates that uncertainty about the economic outlook and a slowing pace of growth has not caused employment growth to grind to a halt just yet."

Theo Dw