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Eurozone Jobless Hits a 4-Year Low

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Unemployment in euro area nations once reached 12.1%. Photograph by Oli Scarff—Getty Images

A report on unemployment in the Eurozone’s 19 nations turned up some good news on Tuesday. The overall jobless rate measured 10.3% in January, down from 10.4% in December and the lowest rate in more than four years.

Unemployment in the region reached as high as 12.1% in 2013.

The figures reported by Eurostat on Tuesday are timely since they arrive a week before the European Central Bank’s governing council meets to discuss the region’s monetary policy, having already dropped several hints that it will expand its current stimulus program.

Though the top-line jobless rate tells a relatively positive story, there are still nations suffering from crippling unemployment. Chief among them is Greece, where 24.6% of the labor force isn’t working. Over 20% of Spain’s workforce is out of work too, although that’s down by more than a quarter from its post-crisis peak. Its youth unemployment rate is even more staggering: 45%–one of the factors that explains the revolt against mainstream political parties in last December’s elections, which has left Spain without a functioning government for three months.

Six other Eurozone countries—including France and Italy, the Eurozone’s second- and third-largest economies–also reported overall unemployment in the double digits. At the other end of the scale, German unemployment fell to a new record low of 4.3%, with the mild winter weather encouraging an earlier-than-usual pickup in the construction sector.