Eurozone unemployment has hit a record high and economists said job losses were likely to keep rising as the region’s debt crisis undermined businesses’ ability to hire workers while indebted governments continued to lay off staff.
In April, 17.4 million people were out of work in the 17 countries using the euro. That is 11 percent of the working population.
Spain is worst hit at 24.3 percent of the workforce, Austria has the lowest jobless rate with 3.9 percent.
The number of people our of work in the region has risen every month over the past year and the latest figures will intensify the debate over austerity.
Some economists say governments slashing spending in an economic downturn is self-defeating as tax receipts go down as they pay out more money in jobless benefits and consumers spend less.
The debt crisis is also hitting manufacturing.
New data showed that in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and in France factory output contracted at the fastest pace in nearly three years last month.
Up till now Germany’s economy had defied the crisis.
Italy’s factories contracted for the 10th straight month while in Spain the manufacturing situation was worse even than in Greece.
New orders dwindled for the 12th straight month as export orders continued to sink.