Jobs Still Hard to Find in E.U. ; Unemployment Is Stuck at 11.8% despite Signs of Economic Growth

By Jolly, David | International New York Times, May 3, 2014 | Go to article overview

Jobs Still Hard to Find in E.U. ; Unemployment Is Stuck at 11.8% despite Signs of Economic Growth


Jolly, David, International New York Times


The jobless rate was 11.8 percent in March in the 18 nations that share the euro currency, a figure that has been unchanged since December.

The European labor market remains stagnant in spite of recent signs that growth might be ticking up, an official report showed Friday.

The jobless rate was 11.8 percent in March in the 18 nations that share the euro currency. The figure has been unchanged since December, after revisions to previous months' data, according to a report from Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union.

For the whole European Union of 28 nations, the jobless rate was 10.5 percent, unchanged from the revised February figure.

About 25.7 million people across the European Union, including 5.3 million young people, were counted as unemployed. That was down slightly from March, but not enough to change the unemployment percentage.

There have been signs that economic growth is accelerating in Europe, albeit from a very low base. An April survey of private- sector purchasing managers showed the economy expanding at the fastest pace in almost three years.

And investors have returned in force, once again buying the sovereign debt of Spain, Italy and other countries that took a beating during the euro crisis. On Friday, the yield on Spain's 10- year government bonds fell below 3 percent for the first time since 2005.

But the pace of job growth has been a drag on the euro zone, where the number of unemployed fell by only 22,000 compared with February and 316,000 compared with March 2013.

Employment is a lagging indicator, as employers, especially those bound by the rigid labor market rules common in many European countries, tend to hold out until their prospects are certain before adding to their work forces.

Christian Schulz, an economist in London with Berenberg Bank, said in a research note that the economic recovery, which began in the second quarter of 2013, was "gradually feeding through to the labor market." But while the number of unemployed has fallen by 310,000 since September, he wrote, at that meager pace it may take "years, if not decades" to restore the 7.5 million jobs Europe has lost since 2008.

Nonetheless, "it is a start," he said. "We expect the labor market improvement to accelerate soon following stronger momentum in the economy since the beginning of the year. …

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