Europe’s Jobless Rate Jumps to the Highest Since 2005

Europe’s unemployment rate rose to the highest in more than three years and inflation held at a record low, increasing pressure on the European Central Bank to take steps to tackle the worst recession in half a century.

The euro area (EA16) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 8.9% in March 2009, compared with 8.7% in February. It was 7.2% in March 2008.

The EU27 unemployment rate was 8.3% in March 2009, compared with 8.1% in February. It was 6.7% in March 2008.

Eurostat estimates that 20.154 million men and women in the EU27, of which 14.158 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in March 2009. Compared with February, the number of persons unemployed increased by 626 000 in the EU27 and by 419 000 in the euro area. Compared with March 2008, unemployment went up by 4.061 million in the EU27 and by 2.816 million in the euro area.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rate was recorded in the Netherlands (2.8%), and the highest rates in Spain (17.4%), Latvia (16.1%) and Lithuania (15.5%).

The falls were observed in Romania (6.1% to 5.8% between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008), Bulgaria (6.1% to 5.9%) and Greece (7.9% to 7.8% between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008). The highest increases were registered in Lithuania (4.3% to 15.5%), Latvia (6.1% to 16.1%) and Spain (9.5% to 17.4%)., Eurostat
4/30/2009 6:47:03 AM