Unemployment in the euro zone jumped more than expected in February.
It is now at 8.5 percent of the working population – 13.5 million people.
Among euro zone members, Ireland and Spain saw the biggest increases.
The latest figures – which illustrated how quickly the region’s economy is deteriorating – were released one day before the European Central Bank was due to meet and is expected to further cut interest rates.
Economists said the unemployment rate is likely to reach 10 percent this year as the crisis deepens.
At the same time new figures showed factory activity in the euro zone continued to decline in March but at a slower pace.
The regular survey of purchasing managers at manufacturing companies suggested that the worst may be over in terms of factory activity.
Germany, France and even Spain showed the most promise but factory output contracted faster in Italy.
However summing up, one economist said: “There are no clear signals the recession will end any time soon.”