Record Unemployment in Euro Zone
by Christoph Dreier
July 3, 2012
Three days after European Union leaders agreed at their summit in Brussels to intensify their social attacks on working people across the continent, the Eurostat statistics agency reported that unemployment reached a new record high in May in the 17-nation euro zone.
According to Eurostat, unemployment in the euro zone hit 11.1 percent in May, an increase from April’s rate of 11.0. The April figure was a full percentage point higher than the rate in April 2010. The unemployment rate in the euro zone has risen continually since April 2008, when it stood at 6.8 percent.
The jobless rate is likely to rise further in the coming months. It is widely believed that the euro zone has officially slid into recession this quarter, and the most recent manufacturing data show overall stagnation and an outright decline in Germany, the strongest economy in Europe and the continent’s biggest exporter.
The downward turn in Europe is part of a global trend. The Institute for Supply Management reported Monday that manufacturing activity in the United States declined sharply in June, marking the first monthly contraction since 2009. The Chinese government reported Sunday that the country’s manufacturing activity in June grew at its slowest pace since November.
European youth unemployment, in particular, has risen dramatically. It increased from 20.5 percent in May 2011 to 22.6 percent last month. The highest youth jobless rate—52.1 percent—was recorded by Greece and Spain.
This means that more than half of all young people in these countries are out of work under conditions where many of their parents have been laid off or suffered wage cuts and the education systems are under systematic attack. According to the European Commission, 68 percent of all Greek youngsters say they would like to leave the country.
In Greece and Spain, the overall unemployment rates now stand at the record levels of 21.9 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively. In both countries unemployment has risen sharply in the past year. In May 2011, unemployment stood at 20.9 percent in Spain and 15.7 percent in Greece.CONTINUE: [link to globalresearch.ca]