The European Union's statistics agency said unemployment stayed unchanged from the downwardly revised December reading. It had previously estimated December unemployment at 10 per cent. The jobless rate last reached 9.9 per cent in October 1998.
Eurostat said 15.683 million people were unemployed in the euro area in January, up by 38,000 against December. Since January 2009, some 2.2 million people in the zone have lost their jobs.
Unemployment in the whole European Union of 27 countries was 9.5 per cent, unchanged from December. This meant 22.979 million people were out of work, 136,000 more than in December.
The lowest jobless rate among euro zone countries was in the Netherlands, at 4.2 per cent, and Austria, at 5.3 per cent. Spain, hit hard by the collapse of its construction sector, had the highest unemployment at 18.8 per cent.
Germany, the euro zone's biggest economy, registered the smallest increase in unemployment since a year earlier -- it rose to 7.5 per cent from 7.2 per cent.