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Eurozone unemployment hits 12 percent

April 2, 2013 at 8:11 AM   |   Comments

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BRUSSELS, April 2 (UPI) -- Unemployment in the 17-member eurozone jumped to 12 percent in February, the region's statistical office said Tuesday.

The unemployment rate moved up from 11.8 percent reported in January. The unemployment rate in the overall European Union, which has 27 members, also increased, going from 10.7 percent to 10.9 percent.

By comparison, the post-financial crisis unemployment rate in the United States peaked at 10 percent in October 2009 and stands at 7.7 percent as of February. The U.S. report for March is expected Friday.

The sovereign debt crisis and a region-wide strategy of austerity budgeting has contributed to Europe's struggles to reduce its unemployment rate.

Not surprisingly, the highest unemployment rates are in countries with an acute financial crisis. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus all have turned to international bailouts over the last four years.

In Greece, the unemployment rate was listed at 26.4 percent using the most current data, which is from December 2012. In Spain, unemployment is at 26.3 percent as of February. Portugal's unemployment rate held at 17.5 percent in February. In Cyprus, unemployment for February reached 14 percent, a sharp jump from January, when the island nation's unemployment rate was 13.7 percent.

Other eyebrow-raising unemployment rates were posted by Slovakia at 14.6 percent, Italy at 11.6 percent, Poland at 10.6 percent, Lithuania at 13.1 percent, France at 10.8 percent, Ireland at 14.2 percent and Bulgaria at 12.5 percent.

The lowest unemployment rates in Europe are in Austria, where unemployment held steady at 4.8 percent in February, Germany with a rate of 5.4 percent, Luxembourg with a rate of 5.5 percent and the Netherlands at 6.2 percent.

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