Eurozone unemployment falls to lowest since 2011, Greece tops highest


Eurozone unemployment dropped to its lowest level in four years in November, official data showed on Thursday, beating analyst expectations despite lingering doubts about the strength of the economy in Europe.

The European Union's Eurostat agency said unemployment in the 19-country single currency bloc fell to 10.5 percent in November from a revised 10.6 percent in October, reaching the lowest level since October 2011.

Joblessness in the eurozone has gradually fallen from the 12.2 percent level reached at the height of the eurozone debt crisis in September 2013.

However, it still remains way above the near-7.5 percent level seen during the economic boom leading up to the financial meltdown in 2008.

Economists worry that growth in Europe, currently set to expand by 1.6 percent in 2015, is too weak to erase the big pockets of unemployment that are helping fuel the rise of populism across the EU.

As usual, the level of joblessness varied across the eurozone.

The highest rate was in debt-stricken Greece, at 24.6 percent in September, the latest data available.

Youth unemployment in Greece stood at a higher 49.5 percent and at a still worrying 47.5 percent in Spain where recovery since the debt crisis is underway.

The lowest rate overall in the bloc was in economic powerhouse Germany, unchanged for a third consecutive month at an ultra low 4.5 percent.

France, the eurozone’s second biggest economy, saw unemployment fall to 10.1 percent in a sign that a poor jobs picture could be improving.

For the whole eurozone, economists surveyed by the Factset data company had forecast an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent.