Eurozone jobless rate stuck at 11.6% in May

July 1, 2014, 10:53 AM UTC
Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg—Getty Images

The number of unemployed in the 18-country eurozone inched down by 28,000 in seasonally-adjusted terms in May, but the jobless rate stayed stuck at 11.6%, the E.U.’s statistics agency Eurostat said Tueday.

The figures show that the gradual decline in jobless that has accompanied the end of the eurozone recession effectively stopped in a month when both France and Germany, the two largest economies in the region, posted an increase in joblessness. The jobless rate peaked at 12% last May.

Germany’s economy is suffering a dip in confidence due to uncertainty over the Ukraine crisis, while France’s is struggling with longer-term obstacles to growth and job creation.

The German Federal Labor Office confirmed Tuesday that the disappointing trend on the labor market continued in June, with the jobless total rising by 9,000 in seasonally-adjusted terms to 2.916 million.  The rise in Germany is also a mirror-image of the positive surprises registered in the winter, when a milder-than-usual winter led to construction employment falling less than it normally does, agencies quoted the Office’s head, Frank-Juergen Wiese, as saying.

Eurostat’s figures showed the young continuing to suffer disproportionately from the region’s inability to create jobs. The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for those under 25 was 23.3%, down fractionally from 23.4% in May. The youth unemployment rate in Italy is now 43.0%, down 0.2% from May but up from 38.7% a year earlier. In Spain, the rate is even higher at 54.0%

Spain, which is the eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy, is at least growing, and businesses are starting to hire. Research firm Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index for June hit a seven-year high of 54.6, up from 52.9 in May. New orders to manufacturers are rising faster than at any time since 2007 and firms are also hiring staff at the fastest rate since the crisis, Markit said.

However, for the eurozone overall, Markit revised its initial estimate of manufacturing activity in June slightly downwards, to an index level of 51.8 from an original 51.9. That is consistent with weak growth–an index level of 50 reflects expansion.