Eurozone Unemployment Rate Goes High

Mario Draghi

The Eurozone’s unemployment rate hit a new record high in October, while consumer price rises slowed sharply.

The jobless rate in the recessionary euro area rose to 11.7%. Inflation fell from 2.5% to 2.2% in November.

The data came as European Central Bank president Mario Draghi warned the euro would not emerge from its crisis until the second half of next year.

Government spending cuts would continue to hurt growth in the short-term, Mr Draghi said.

The unemployment rate continued its steady rise, reaching 11.7% in October, up from 11.6% the month before and 10.4% a year ago.

A further 173,000 were out of work across the single currency area, bringing the total to 18.7 million.

The respective fortunes of northern and southern Europe diverged further. In Spain, the jobless rate rose to 26.2% from 25.8% the previous month, and in Italy it rose to 11.1% from 10.8%.

In contrast, unemployment in Germany held steady at 5.4% of the labour force while in Austria it fell from 4.4% to just 4.3%.

“The real problem is that we have a two-speed Europe,” economist Alberto Gallo of Royal Bank of Scotland told the BBC. “The biggest increase in unemployment is being driven by Italy and Spain.

“It is the same as you are seeing in financial markets,” he explained. “The periphery [Spain and Italy] is the area where the banks are the least capitalized and need the most help, and the loan rates are the highest.”

Data earlier this month showed that the eurozone had returned to a shallow recession in the three months to September shrinking 0.1% during the quarter following a 0.2% contraction the previous quarter.

The less competitive southern European economies, such as Spain and Italy – where governments have had to push through hefty spending cuts to get their borrowing under control, and crisis-struck banks have been cutting back their lending – have been in recession for over a year.

But the economies of Germany and France have also begun to weaken. Growth in the eurozone’s two biggest economies came in at a disappointing 0.2%.

And more recent data suggests that both core eurozone economies have continued to skirt recession during the autumn.

Retail sales in Germany shrank 2.8% in October versus the previous month, down 0.8% from a year earlier, according to data released on Friday. Analysts had expected the country to record unchanged or moderately growing sales.

Meanwhile, separate data showed consumer spending in France shrank 0.2% in October versus the previous month, with spending on cars and other durable goods hardest hit.

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