BRUSSELS – Unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has risen to a record 11.9 percent but inflation has fallen to its lowest level in two and a half years, official figures showed Friday.
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said nearly 19 million people are unemployed in the eurozone following an increase of around 200,000 in January. That took the rate up from January’s 11.8 percent, the previous record.
Italy’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 11.7 percent in January from 11.3 percent the month before to hit its highest level for at least 21 years, data showed on Friday.
The figure was above all forecasts in a Reuters survey of analysts which pointed to a marginal uptick to 11.3 percent.
Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.9%), Germany and Luxembourg (both 5.3%) and theNetherlands (6.0%), and the highest in Greece (27.0% in November 2012), Spain (26.2%) and Portugal (17.6%).
Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate increased in nineteen Member States, fell in seven and remained stable in Denmark. The largest decreases were observed in Estonia (11.1% to 9.9% between December 2011 and December 2012), Latvia (15.5% to 14.4% between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012), Romania (7.4% to 6.6%) and the United Kingdom (8.3% to 7.7% between November 2011 and November 2012). The highest increases were registered in Greece (20.8% to 27.0% between November 2011 and November 2012), Cyprus (9.9% to 14.7%), Portugal(14.7% to 17.6%) and Spain (23.6% to 26.2%).
A shock contraction in British manufacturing last month saw the pound slide to a two-and-a-half-year low against the dollar yesterday, as tough conditions both at home and abroad indicated that the sector will drag down growth in the first quarter.
The Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.9 from 50.5 in January, well below the 50 level that divides growth from contraction, as employment levels in the sector fell at the fastest pace in more than three years.
The pound sank by almost a cent against the euro to €1.152 and one-and-a-half cents against the dollar to $1.5012 on the back of the news, which economists described as “very disappointing”.
This chart comparing French and German manufacturing output tells quite a story. While Germany is benefiting from strong exports, the French economy is mired in a horrible slump.
The bad news doesn’t stop there.
Just out today, some fresh bad data on French car sales.
The markets started the day roughly neutral.
And now the market is breaking down.
Most indices are in the red.