Europe’s Unemployment Rate Continues Decline in Early 2017

BRUSSELS (CN) – The unemployment rate in both the European Union and the 19-state eurozone ticked down a tenth of a point in February, to 8.0 and 9.5 percent respectively, Eurostat reported Monday.

Both figures mark the lowest unemployment rate since height of the global economic meltdown in 2009, the agency said.

Economists attribute the declined to the stimulus efforts of European Central Bank, which has been working hard to prod growth and economic activity in the region’s biggest economies.

Since those efforts began, the jobless rate for Europe has declined steadily from a peak of 12 percent reached in 2013.

But the latest unemployment numbers from Europe are still significantly higher than the unemployment rate in the United States, which stood at 4.7 percent in February, down from 4.9 percent a year earlier.

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, estimates that 19.7 million men and women in the European Union, of whom 15.4 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in February 2017.

Those numbers represent a reduction of 153,000 in the EU compared to the numbers for January 2017, a reduction of 140,000 in the Euro area for the same month.

Compared with February 2016, unemployment fell by 1.8 million in the European Union and by 1.2 million in the euro area last month.

Among European Union member states, the lowest unemployment rates in last month were recorded in the Czech Republic (3.4 percent), Germany (3.9 percent) and Malta (4.1 percent).

The highest unemployment rates were observed in Greece (23.1 percent in December 2016) and Spain (18.0 percent).

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate in February 2017 fell in twenty-six member states, while it increased in Denmark (from 6.0 percent to 6.4 percent) and Lithuania (from 8.0 percent to 8.3 percent).

The largest decreases were registered in Croatia (from 14.4% percent to 11.6 percent), Spain (from 20.5 percent to 18.0 percent), Portugal (from 12.2 percent to 10.0 percent) and Ireland (from 8.4 percent to 6.6 percent).

In February 2017, the unemployment rate in the United States was 4.7 percent, down from 4.8 percent in January 2017 and from 4.9 percent in February 2016.

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