The number of people without a job in the eurozone has fallen for the first time in more than two years – albeit by a tiny amount. .
In June, 24,000 fewer people were unemployed compared with May.
That still leaves a total of more than 19 million job seekers.
The decline was not enough to bring down the overall unemployment reading.
It stayed at a record 12.1 percent of the workforce for the fourth straight month, up from 7.3 percent in June 2008, before the effects of the financial crisis kicked in.
The numbers did reignite talk of a muted recovery from recession later this year, which has been helped by eurozone business and economic confidence hitting 15-month highs, while the latest surveys of companies also revealed growth.
All of which makes it more likely the European Central Bank will not cut interest rates to stimulate growth when it meets this week.
However the latest statistics on spending by shoppers in some of the eurozone’s biggest economies underlined how fragile the situation is.
Retail sales in Germany slipped 1.5 percent in June, France missed expectations of a rise, while in Spain, retail spending fell for the thirty-sixth month running.
And the European Commission, the EU’s executive, played down any suggestion that European policymakers would be satisfied by the improvement.
“The unemployment figures remain horrendously high,” Commission spokesman Dennis Abbott told a news conference after the unemployment figures were released. “It is up to member states to get their act together and implement reforms to give people the opportunity to get a decent job.”