Wednesday’s economic growth numbers make it official: The euro zone is in its longest recession since records began in 1995.
The 17-nation economy shrank by 0.2 percent between January and March, compared with last quarter's decline of 0.6 percent, deepening the bloc's recession as economic output fell for the sixth consecutive quarter.
Data released by the EU showed nine nations were in recession, each suffering at least a successive two-quarter drop in growth.
France joined Greece and Spain in that unfortunate list, as unemployment reached a recent 16-year high with its gross domestic product (GDP) contracting 0.2 percent, the same amount last quarter.
Italy's economy, the euro zone's third largest, dropped 0.5 percent, though experts had forecast a 0.3 percent decrease, which means its GDP shrank 2.3 percent in about a year, according to the National Statistics Institute. The ranks of its jobless, already at about 11 percent, may swell to 12.3 percent in 2014.
Austerity-racked Greece suffered significant loss with its economy contracting by 5.3 percent. The Finance Ministry has said the economy will rebound in 2014, but only after a possible 4.3 percent decrease in 2013. On Tuesday, Fitch Ratings gave Greece's long-term credit rating a B minus — an improvement — saying it was no longer at risk of default.
Germany, which creates nearly one-third of the euro zone's economy, showed a sight increase, recording 0.1 percent growth.
For the European Union, which consists of 27 nations, economic output was down by 0.1 percent, compared to its 0.5 contraction for the fourth quarter of 2012.
This graph from the Guardian via the EU statistic office Eurostat, shows euro area GDP has shrunk for six consecutive quarters.
And by the way, in the US, industrial output fell by 0.5 percent in April, 0.3 percent more than economists had expected.