More than one in 10 people in the euro zone is out of work, including nearly a quarter of Spaniards, pushing the currency bloc’s unemployment rate to a record high 11.1% in May.
Austerity measures and weak demand caused by the region’s long-running debt crisis, exacerbated by a job market and business environment smothered in red tape, pushed joblessness up from 11% in April and 10% in May 2011. The rate is the highest since such data were first collected in 1995.
Nearly 17.6 million Europeans in the 17-member countries are unemployed, up 88,000 from a month earlier, according to Eurostat, the official statistics provider for the European Union. In the U.S., where the unemployment rate is sitting at 8.2%, roughly 12.7 million Americans are out of work.
Japan’s jobless rate, comparatively, is 4.4%.
Troubled Spain and Greece, both existing or soon-to-be recipients of bailout funds, have the highest jobless rates in the euro zone, with 24.6% and 21.9%, respectively. A year ago, 20.9% of Spain’s workforce was unemployed, as was 15.7% of the same pool in Greece.
More than half of young people under age 25 in both countries are without a job.
Austria, with 4.1% of its workers on the hunt, has the lowest rate in the group, followed by the Netherlands at 5.1%, Luxembourg at 5.4% and Germany at 5.6%.
The dour numbers have raised expectations that the European Central Bank will soon cut interest rates to help boost the region out of its malaise.