BRUSSELS (AFP) – Unemployment in the eurozone fell in August to 7.4 per cent, its lowest level since May 2008, according to official data released yesterday.
The figure, which brought the number of unemployed in the single currency bloc to 12.17 million, was lower than a forecast by financial data provider Factset, which predicted unchanged unemployment at 7.5 per cent.
Unemployment in the eurozone thus fell below the rate just prior to the world financial crisis in 2008 (7.5 per cent) after reaching 12.1 per cent in mid-2013 at the height of the debt crisis.
Germany, the leading economy in the euro area, recorded the lowest level of the 19 euro countries, stable at 3.1 per cent followed by Malta at 3.3 per cent and the Netherlands at 3.5 per cent.
The large countries of Southern Europe are still well above the average.
Greece, which put an end to a series of bailouts in 2018, recorded the highest level, at 17 per cent according to June figures, the latest data available.
In Spain, the percentage of unemployed declined in August to 13.8 per cent, a smaller decline than in Italy which fell to 9.5 per cent, down 0.3 points. France remained stable at 8.5 per cent.
Unemployment among workers under 25 fell to 15.4 per cent, with again Greece at the top with 33 per cent according to June figures. In Spain it rose slightly in August to 32.2 per cent. In the countries of the European Union (EU) as a whole, unemployment fell to 6.2 per cent, some 15.4 million unemployed.