Business, Economics and Jobs

Eurozone jobless rate hits record high 12.1%


An employee of the Hellenic Defense Systems talks by megaphone outside the Finance Ministry in Athens on April 23, 2013 during a demonstration against austerity and unemployment.


Louisa Gouliamaki

Unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high in March, with European nations shedding 62,000 jobs last month alone.

More than 19 million people are now out of work in the 17-nation eurozone, pushing the unemployment rate up to 12.1 percent.

When the 27 nations that make up the European Union are added that rate drops to 10.9 percent.

The statistics also show that about one in four people under 25 are unemployed, with that number far higher in Greece (59 percent) and Spain (55 percent).

Greece and Spain's official unemployment rates have also edged closer to 30 percent in recent months.

Cyprus has jumped to 14 percent.

According to Eurostat data agency the jobless rate has climbed for the 23rd consecutive month amid crushing austerity imposed by EU governments.

Austerity has come under intense scrutiny recently as calls for longer timelines to reduce deficits have increased.

Both Greece and Spain have secured deals with the so-called troika to revise their bailout programs.

Ireland and Portugal have also negotiated for better terms on loans from Europe.

"I think it has reached its limits in many aspects, because a policy to be successful not only has to be properly designed," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso recently.

"It has to have the minimum of political and social support."

For its part, Germany has rejected easing austerity and defended its use.

“If we were to give up the policy of consolidating the budgets in Europe, if we were to fall back to the old policy of taking on new debt, then we would cement mass unemployment in Europe for many years to come,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle last week in Brussels.