(CN) – After years of slow but steady improvement following the 2008 global financial meltdown, Europe’s economy appears to be stabilizing, at least on one front: the unemployment rate in the 28-state European Union held steady in March at 7.1 percent.
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said Wednesday the jobless rate in the 19-state eurozone – the member states using the euro as currency – also remained flat at 8.5 percent. Both figures are nearly a point lower than March 2017 and the lowest since late 2008.
By comparison, the jobless rate in the United States was 4.1 percent in March.
The Czech Republic, Malta and Germany enjoy unemployment figures below 3.5 percent. On the flip side, Greece and Spain continue to have the highest jobless rates at 20.6 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively – though both saw marked improvement in 2017.
Nearly every EU state saw employment improvement in the last year, Eurostat said. And the situation is a far cry from the middle and end of 2013 – the peak of the financial crisis – when the jobless rate for the full EU topped 11 percent and the eurozone ticked above 12 percent.
Eurostat said youth employment continues to be a problem across the continent, with 3.5 million people under 25 out of work. While the figures took a modest dip in March, the youth jobless rate remains crushing in Greece, Spain and Italy – 42 percent, 35 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively.