Eurozone joblessness hits new high; rift feared among EU
BRUSSELS — Record unemployment and fraying social welfare systems in southern Europe risk causing a new divide in the continent, the EU warned Tuesday, when figures showed joblessness across the 17 EU countries that use the euro hit a new high.
Eurozone unemployment rose to 11.8 percent in November, the highest since the euro currency was founded in 1999, according to the statistical agency Eurostat. The rate was up from 11.7 percent in October and 10.6 percent a year earlier.
In the wider 27-nation European Union, the world's largest economic bloc with 500 million people, unemployment broke the 26 million mark for the first time.
But the trend is not uniform. Unemployment is increasing mainly in those countries, mostly in southern Europe, where market concerns over excessive public debt have pushed governments to make the toughest savings, pushing the economies into recession.
States have raised taxes and slashed spending — including by cutting wages and pensions, measures that hit the labor force in the pocket and reduce demand in the economy.
Laszlo Andor, the EU's Employment Commissioner, warned the uneven impact of the crisis could create a rift.
“A new divide is emerging between countries that seem trapped in a downward spiral of falling output, fast rising unemployment and eroding disposable incomes and those that have so far shown good or at least some resilience,” said a statement from Andor's office.
Last year ‘‘has been another very bad year for Europe in terms of unemployment and the deteriorating social situation,” said Andor. ‘‘It is unlikely that Europe will see much socio-economic improvement in 2013.”
The single biggest increase in unemployment over the past year took place in Greece, where joblessness soared to 26 percent in September, up 7.1 percentage points over September 2011's 18.9 percent. The highest overall rate in the EU was in Spain, where 26.6 percent of the workforce was jobless in November, up 3.6 percentage points over last year.
By contrast, Austria posted the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, at 4.5 percent. The rate in Luxembourg was 5.1 percent, and the rate in Germany was 5.4 percent.
“It is clear that the economic implosion of several (EU) member states continues at a troubling pace,” said Graeme Leach, chief economist at the London-based Institute of Directors. He said the stark statistics were ‘‘compounded by the political and human impact of terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy.”
The problem of joblessness is made worse by the fact that southern EU nations are increasingly chipping away at their social safety system to make do.
‘‘Most national welfare systems have lost much of their ability to protect household incomes against the effects of the crisis,” said Andor.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nations urged to follow U.S. example on Ebola
- With hours before secession vote, many in Scotland undecided
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike
- Obama, generals part ways on ground war in Iraq
- Aid to Ukraine uncertain as its leader visits U.S.
- Russia’s business world rattled by arrest of oil tycoon Yevtushenkov
- U.S., EU sting Russian energy sector in sanctions
- Islamic State releases video showing execution of British aid worker
- United Nations fears for safety of staff in Kabul
- Qatar sends arms to opposition, Libyan prime minister says
- Diplomatic push swells against ISIS