Eurozone unemployment falls to near 8-year low at 9.5 percent

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
BRUSSELS
Published 03.04.2017 12:54

The eurozone jobless rate in February fell to its lowest level since May 2009 as a resurgent hiring spree took hold despite uncertainty over Brexit, EU data showed Monday.

The Eurostat statistics agency said the jobless rate in the 19-nation eurozone fell to 9.5 percent, with sustained drops in Spain and Portugal also a factor.

The jobless queues across the region shrank by 140,000, however, a total 15.439 million people were without work in February, Eurostat said.

During the worst of the debt crisis, unemployment in the single currency bloc peaked at 12.1 percent.

The fall in unemployment will add to a list of arguments from powerhouse Germany that the European Central Bank should stop its massive stimulus program as early as possible.

The ECB, led by its chief Mario Draghi, is at pains to stress that despite the series of positive economic signals, it may be too soon to pull back on the program.

Eurostat on Friday gave ammunition to Draghi's argument to maintain the stimulus, reporting that inflation had dropped to 1.5 percent, well-below the ECB's target.

By country in November, Europe's top economy Germany had one of the lowest eurozone jobless rate at 3.9 percent, while Greece at 23.1 percent was the worst.

France, the second biggest economy in the eurozone, remained stuck at 10 percent.

Spain continued its steady drop, landing at 18.0 percent. While still high, this was a big drop from 20.5 percent 12 months before.

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