EU unemployment tops 26 million for 1st time

Demonstrators clash with riot police officers during a demonstration against unemployement in Naples on November 12, 2012. Twenty people were injured during the clashes. AFP PHOTO / MARIO LAPORTA (Photo credit should read MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images) MARIO LAPORTA

BRUSSELS Unemployment in the 17 EU countries that use the euro rose to 11.8 percent in November, as the number of jobless people in the region rose to 18.8 million, the highest figure since the single currency was founded in 1999.

According to data released Tuesday by the EU's official statistics agency, eurozone unemployment was up 0.1 percentage points over October -- but up a full 1.2 percentage points from a year ago. The rate for the 27-member European Union was 10.7 percent, the same as in October, but up from 10.0 percent a year ago. The number of unemployed across the full EU topped 26 million.

The figures illustrate the daunting tasks confronting European Union officials. While the threat of a collapse of the eurozone due to too much government debt may have receded, the economies in many EU countries stubbornly refuse to expand and joblessness continues to rise, creating broad social crises.

As part of their efforts to reduce their debt levels, governments across Europe have introduced tough austerity measures, such as slashing spending and raising taxes. However, measures such as cutting wages and pensions hit the labor force in the pocket and reduce demand in the economy.

Other measures taken alongside the austerity, such as reforming labor practices, and boosting skills and education, are intended to promote employment but they take time, both to enact and to feed through an economy.

As unemployment across the eurozone continues to rise, many analysts are concerned whether the political will to continue to cut budgets can be sustained.

The biggest rise in unemployment over the past year took place in Greece, where joblessness soared to 26 percent in September, up 7.1 percentage points over September 2011's 18.9 percent. But the highest overall rate in the EU was in Spain, where 26.6 percent of the workforce was jobless in November, up 3.6 percentage points over last year.

By contrast, Austria posted the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, at 4.5 percent. The rate in Luxembourg was 5.1 percent, and the rate in Germany was 5.4 percent.

Among larger economies, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Britain was 7.8 percent, and in France it was 10.5 percent.

Popular

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Market Data

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

Market News

Stock Watchlist

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download