Eurozone unemployment jumps to a record 10.9%
(BRUSSELS) - The eurozone unemployment rate hit a record high level in March, jumping to 10.9 percent for the first time for 15 years, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Almost 17.37 million men and women looked for work in the single currency area in March, or 169,000 more than in February, according to Eurostat data agency. The 10.9 percent rate equalled an April 1997 record.
The unemployment rate had reached 10.8 percent in February, with the eurozone widely expected to have dipped back into recession as it battles a festering debt crisis.
The rising jobless rate is sure to fuel arguments for governments to switch from austerity-only policies to growth measures in order to revive the eurozone's sickly economy.
Spain, already struggling to fend off fears that it will need a bailout, remained the nation with the highest unemployment rate, at 24.1 percent in March, according to Eurostat.
Greece, living off bailout funds since May 2010, came in second again with 21.7 percent in January, the latest figures available for that country.
In an indication of the economic division in Europe between North and South, the lowest March unemployment rates were in Austria, 4.0 percent, the Netherlands, 5.0 percent, Luxembourg, 5.2 percent, and Germany, 5.6 percent.
Unemployment remained stable in the wider, 27-nation EU, which includes Britain and Poland, at 10.2 percent in March.
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