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Euro zone unemployment hits a record high of 11.9%

Unemployment in the euro zone hit a record 11.9% in January in seasonally adjusted numbers released by the European Commission today. That’s nearly 19 million people out of work, and more evidence that life isn’t getting any easier in the 17-member currency bloc. Unemployment for the 17-member euro currency bloc was 10.8% a year ago. By comparison, unemployment was 4.2% in Japan and 7.9% in the US for January. Here’s a chart:

Euro area unemployment 1 year

Unemployment in the euro zone is worse than for the overall 27-member European Union, but not by much. The Commission notes today that unemployment rates in Europe overall “have risen markedly” from a year ago. EU unemployment was 10.8% in January, compared with 10.1% in January 2012.

euro area unemployment

And for some country-by-country low lights: Italy’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit its highest level in 21 years, at 11.7%  in January. In Spain it was 26% and in Greece it was 27% in November, when the most recent Greek data were available, according to Eurostat. More worryingly, youth unemployment for the EU was 24%, with over half of youth unemployed in Spain (56%), Greece (59% in November), and Italy (39%).

Unemployment euro zone

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