Unemployment across the Eurozone hit a new record high of 12% in February after rising yet again from the initial 11.9% (which was revised up to 12%) level in January. The rise is a big jump from last year when unemployment stood at 10.9% in the same period. It now means that up to 19,071 million people are out of work in Europe.
As usual, there were huge discrepancies between the member nations, with the lowest level of unemployment being recorded in Austria at 4.8% and Germany at 5.4%. The highest rate continued to be Greece with a staggering 26.4% and Spain with the equally terrible figure of 26.3%.
Youth unemployment continues to soar with the jobless rate being over 50% in the worst affected countries of Spain and Greece. Overall the Eurozone total youth unemployment figure stands at 23.9%.
The Eurozone’s latest PMI data added to the grim picture of a declining economy with virtually every member state posting declines. First up was Ireland which had a terrible March as manufacturing contracted for the first time in over a year and recorded its sharpest drop in exports since the height of the great recession in 2009. The country’s PMI fell to 48.6, below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
Spain suffered even worse with its manufacturing sector shrinking at the fastest rate since October. Markit economist Andrew Harker said: “The data for Spain make grim reading for the manufacturing sector. Moreover, the latest figures have brought an end to the recent period of moderating declines and cast doubt on any hopes of recovery for the rest of the year.”
The Euro has fallen to a five-week low against the Japanese Yen and weakened against the US Dollar on the back of the news. The single currency also dropped against 12 of its 16 major peers after earlier data releases showed that manufacturing across the region continued to fall with France and even Germany posting declines.
“The surveys paint a very disappointing picture across the region,” said Markit’s chief economist Chris Williamson.
“The manufacturing sector looks likely to have acted as a drag on the economy in the first quarter, with acceleration in the rate of decline in March raising the risk that the downturn may also intensify in the second quarter.”
As of 11:30am
The Euro to Pound Sterling exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 0.8456
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2851
The Euro to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2270
The Euro to New Zealand Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.5248