Eurozone jobless at record high in June

Eurozone jobless at record high in June

LONDON - The Associated Press
Eurozone jobless at record high in June

Employees of France’s biggest drugmaker Sanofi protest against the planned job cuts on July 26. The unemployment rate in the eurozone is at 11.2 percent in June. AFP photo

The number of people unemployed across the 17 countries that use the euro hit a record high in June, official figures showed Tuesday, in a stark reminder that Europe’s debt crisis has ramifications beyond the financial markets.

Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said 17.801 million people were out of work in the eurozone in June. That was 123,000 more than May, and is the highest level since the euro was formed in 1999. The increase was the 14th in a row and means that around 2.25 million people have lost their jobs since April 2011.

Despite the increase, unemployment on a seasonally-adjusted basis in June was unchanged at a record 11.2 percent, nearly three percentage points higher than the U.S.’s equivalent 8.2 percent. Europe’s unemployment rate for May had originally been estimated at 11.1 percent.

“Another horrible set of labor market data for the eurozone, which bodes ill for consumer spending and growth prospects,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.

Spain, which is at the forefront of Europe’s debt crisis concerns, had the highest unemployment rate across the eurozone of 24.8 percent. Greece’s rate was not far behind at 22.5 percent, though the latest figures available are for April.

Many countries that use the euro, including France and Italy, also have double-digit unemployment rates.Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, continues to fare far better, and its unemployment rate, according to Eurostat, dropped to 5.4 percent in June from 5.5 percent in May.

Germany may be hit soon

However, analysts think that even Germany will soon start to see rising unemployment rates. Figures earlier from Germany’s Federal Labor Agency showed the unadjusted rate climbing from 6.6 percent in June to 6.8 percent in July as the typical seasonal increase of school-leavers signing on for unemployment benefits was reinforced by a gradual slowing in the labor market. The figures will add to the pressure on policymakers to get a grip of the debt crisis, which is impacting communities and consigning large chunks of younger people to unemployment - every other person aged under 25 in Spain and Greece is unemployed.

Hopes have risen over the past week that Europe is preparing new measures to handle the crisis. Last week, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the bank “is ready to do what it takes to preserve the euro.”

Japan’s jobless rate improves slightly in June

TOKYO – The Associated Press

Japan’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.3 percent in June, declining for the second straight month, but overall the economy continues to struggle after last year’s disaster and as demand from debt-laden Europe weakens.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Tuesday that the jobless rate in June fell 0.1 percentage point from 4.4 percent in May.

Japan’s population continued to decrease but the number of unemployed fell at a greater rate than those with jobs.

Japan is recovering from the devastation along its northeastern coastline caused by last year’s earthquake and tsunami, which also set off a nuclear disaster.