ECONOMY

Eurozone unemployment rate flat in August on slow recovery

The eurozone unemployment rate was flat in August after easing in July for the first time in two years, showing the nascent economic recovery was starting to have a positive impact on the labor market.

The unemployment rate in the 17 countries using the euro was 12.0 percent of the labor force for a second month in a row, just below the record 12.1 percent in June and May, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday.

The July rate was revised to 12.0 percent from the previously reported 12.1 percent. Analysts polled by Reuters expected unemployment at 12.1 percent.

But in absolute numbers, the number of people out of work still edged marginally lower to 19.178 mln in August from 19.183 mln in July.

The eurozone has started to emerge in the second quarter from its longest recession since its creation in 1999 and European policymakers had made the job creation their top priority for restoring sound growth.

Spain and Greece were the countries where unemployment was highest, above 25 percent, and economists do not expected it to fall below 20 percent in the near term.

Italy, in political turmoil threatening the survival of the shaky government led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta, saw its unemployment rate inch up to 12.2 percent in August from 12.1 percent in July.

Unemployment in Europe’s largest economy Germany, waiting for a new government to be formed after elections in September, stood 5.2 percent, the second lowest in the eurozone after Austria which had with 4.9 percent. [Reuters]