Unemployment in the eurozone reached a new high at the end of 2011 with around 16.5 million people out of work. This was fuelled by the debt crisis in the region. In December 2011, the jobless rate was recorded at 10.4%. In non-euro countries such as Britain and Poland, the number of unemployed stands at 23.8 million (9.9%) of the potential work force.
The highest unemployment rate was reported in Spain (22.9%) and the lowest was reported in Austria (4.1%). The biggest increases over the past year were seen in Greece, Cyprus and Spain. The largest falls took place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Guillaume Menuet, economist at Citigroup, said: “If you think about the direction of employment expectations that you see across various business surveys, the outlook for employment doesn’t look particularly enticing, simply because the uncertainty is very high.?
Ever since Europe?s debt crisis devastated the region two years ago, the focus has been on austerity measures that resulted in savage spending cuts and tax increases. But now Europe is changing its attitude and has started to focus on measures that are aimed to boost growth and jobs, which are central to the crisis.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels to discuss a wide range of issue including jobs and economic growth. About 25 member states have come to terms for a fiscal treaty, aimed at budget policy that will prevent excessive debts accumulation. The UK and Czech Republic stayed away from the treaty citing legal concerns and constitutional reasons for their refusal.
Sources:BBC, nzherald.co.nz, abcnews.go.com