The unemployment rate edged up in March in the 12 countries that make up the euro zone.
It rose to 8.9% compared with 8.8% in the previous month as the worsening outlook for economic growth discouraged companies from hiring workers. The Eurostat figures are adjusted to take into account seasonal factors like good weather allowing more people to be employed on outdoor work. Spain had the worst total in the euro zone at 10.2% with France and Germany next at 9.8%.The lowest euro zone rates included Austria at 4.6% and Ireland at 4.3%. As the figures were released, the director general of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, called on European governments to reform their labour markets to improve employment. Rato also said that the IMF now believes that the recovery in Europe was actually weakening as early as the second half of last year. European economies, particularly exports on which many countries rely for growth, have taken a battering from the strength of the euro against the dollar as well as high oil prices.