Unemployment in the eurozone has equalled the record high of 15 years ago, according to the latest data, driven by rises in Italy and Spain.
Even Germany’s jobless rate edged higher last month when adjusted for seasonal factors – such as weather, though the seasonally-unadjusted data showed that unemployment fell in April.
Economists said the recent months’ steep falls in unemployment in Germany’s export-driven economy look unlikely to resume and joblessness should stagnate for the rest of the year.
Seasonally-adjusted figures from the Federal Labour Office showed unemployment rose unexpectedly in April by 19,000 to a total of 2.875 million.
Seasonally-unadjusted data showed that unemployment fell to 2.963 million in April from 3.0 million in March. As a percentage, unemployment remained unchanged at 6.8 percent last month from an upwardly revised 6.8 percent for March.
At the same time figures for the entire eurozone were released for the previous month, March, which showed employment in the bloc rose to 10.9 percent of the working population. That was the worst in 15 years.
For the wider 27-nation European Union, unemployment was steady at 10.2 percent, equivalent to some 24.8 million people.
Austria and the Netherlands have the most people working with unemployment rates of four and five percent respectively.
Spain, Greece and Portugal are at the bottom. Portugal with 15.3 percent, Greece with 21.7 percent and Spain at 24.1.
Italy also suffered a dramatic increase in its unemployment rate.
It hit 9.8 percent – in seasonally adjusted terms – the highest level in at least nine years.
It was the seventh straight month of rises and youth unemployment in Italy reached almost 36 percent of the workforce.