For the euro area this is the highest rate since August 1998 and for the EU27 since the start of the series in January 2000.
Eurostat estimates that 23.012 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 15.763 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in December 2009. Compared with November, the number of persons unemployed increased by 163 000 in the EU27 and by 87 000 in the euro area. Compared with December 2008, unemployment went up by 4.628 million in the EU27 and by 2.787 million in the euro area.
Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in the Netherlands (4.0%) and Austria (5.4%), and the highest rates in Latvia (22.8%) and Spain (19.5%).
Compared with a year ago, all Member States recorded an increase in their unemployment rate. The smallest increases were observed in Germany (7.1% to 7.5%), Luxembourg (5.3% to 6.2%) and Belgium (7.1% to 8.2%). The highest increases were registered in Latvia (11.3% to 22.8%), Estonia (6.5% to 15.2% between the third quarters of 2008 and 2009) and Lithuania (6.5% to 14.6% between the third quarters of 2008 and 2009).
In December 2009, the youth unemployment rate (under-25s) was 21.0% in the euro area and 21.4% in the EU27. In December 2008 it was 17.0% and 16.9% respectively. The lowest rate was observed in the Netherlands (7.6%), and the highest rates in Spain (44.5%) and Latvia (43.8% in the fourth quarter of 2009).