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Outlook Bleak: Eurozone Unemployment Breaks Record While Workers Continue Fight Against Austerity

Unemployment expected to rise through next year

Common Dreams staff

Eurozone unemployment reached another record high in October as the 17-state region hit a jobless rate of 11.7 percent, official data showed on Friday, while austerity measures continued to cut into the wallets of the middle and working classes.

October brought in the 14th consecutive monthly unemployment record since September 2011 when unemployment hit 10.3 percent. 18.7 million were out of work across the region in October up from from 18.49 million the month before, the Eurostat data agency said.

The situation is even worse for young workers. Almost one in four young Europeans are out of work. In Greece, 57 percent of under 25s were jobless in August, and in Spain 55.9 percent were jobless in October, according to the latest figures.

Spain and Greece also have the region's highest overall unemployment rates — both over 25 percent.

"But the future looks even bleaker for those in search of work. European Union forecasts earlier this month saw unemployment set to peak at almost 12 percent next year due to weak domestic demand as governments continue on the path of austerity," Agence France-Presse reports.

The governments of Spain and Greece have worked tirelessly to appease European lenders' requests through slashing public budgets, to the ire of public workers.

As a result, both countries have seen massive anti-austerity protest movements, including recurring general strikes, throughout the last two years despite heavy handed policing.

Most recently, public health workers in Spain continued their fight against austerity and the privatization of public services on Friday morning, as organizers delivered almost one million signatures to the Ministry of Health in Madrid, asking lawmakers to resist proposed privatization of the public health system there, which has been included in a public health system austerity plan scheduled to go into effect in 2013.

Hundreds of supporters and members of the Workers and Members Platform in Defense of Public Health gathered outside of the Ministry as the petition was delivered.

On Monday, health workers went on strike to protest the proposed privatization -- which will place the operation of six hospitals in Madrid in private hands. Organizers say the move will make it far more costly for patients to seek treatment, as well as take away many jobs.

"We want public healthcare for all," a doctor who asked not to be named told El País.

"They're looking to make healthcare only available for the powerful," 85-year-old patient Valentín Huerta stated. "We're headed back to where we were 50 years ago."

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