The Toll of Austerity: Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record

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CommonDreams.org

The Toll of Austerity: Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record

Youth joblessness at 3.3 million in the eurozone

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Private and public sector workers take part in a demonstration to protest against austerity measures in Nantes December 13, 2011. (photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

As the U.S. Labor Department announces today that the unemployment rate has fallen to a low of 8.5%, new statistics released today from the Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, show the soaring rates of unemployment in the eurozone.

Eurostat's data show "the highest [levels of unemployment] in Spain (22.9%), Greece (18.8% in September 2011) and Lithuania (15.3% in the third quarter of 2011)."

The Guardian notes how austerity measures have been a factor in the unemployment rate:

Public spending cuts and collapsing business confidence have sent unemployment in the eurozone to a record 16 million people, up 587,000 on the same month in 2010.

Official figures compiled by Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, show the heavy toll taken on the workforce by austerity measures and the slowdown in the eurozone economy during 2011.

Unemployment across the 17-member single currency area hit 16.4 million by November. The unemployment rate – the proportion of the workforce without a job – has risen only slightly over the past 12 months, to 10.3%; but many workers have given up on finding a job.

Reuters also notes the impact of austerity measures:

Europe's worsening sovereign debt crisis and governments' tough cost-cutting response appear to be driving the 17-nation currency bloc back into recession following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, while the number of people out of work is rising.

Youth were particularly hard hit. Agence France Presse reports:

Youth joblessness -- people under 25 -- increased to more than 5.5 million across the EU, or 22.3 percent, and to more than 3.3 million in the eurozone, or 21.7 percent. A year earlier youth unemployment stood at 21 percent in the EU and 20.6 percent in the eurozone.

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