AFP - Eurozone unemployment fell to a near five-year low in May, official data said yesterday, in a rare positive sign for a sluggish European economy struggling to return to solid growth.
The data covers a period before last week’s shock Brexit vote, which economists believe has made the eurozone more unstable and could negatively affect growth and job figures in the medium term.
The Eurostat statistics agency said unemployment in the 19-nation eurozone fell to 10.1 percent in May from 10.2 percent in April.
The rate fell in with analyst forecasts as the eurozone continues a painfully slow recovery after unemployment hit record highs during the worst of the debt crisis.
“Despite May’s decline, the euro-zone unemployment rate is still well above the 1999-2007 average of 8.8 percent,” said Stephen Brown European Economist at Capital Economics.
Unemployment in the full 28-nation EU was unchanged at 8.6 percent in February, Eurostat said.
One of the lowest jobless rate was in powerhouse Germany, at 4.2 percent, while the highest were in debt-laden Greece at 24.1 percent and Spain with 19.8 percent.
Unemployment in the single currency bloc hit a record high of 12.1 percent during the worst of the debt crisis.
“Given that at least some eurozone firms will probably delay their hiring plans after the fallout of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, we still think that the ECB has a lot more work to do,” said Brown.
The European Central Bank launched a massive stimulus programme in early 2015 but to little apparent effect and last month added even more unprecedented measures in an effort to get the economy back on track.