Euro zone jobless rate remains steady in July

The number of jobless in Europe fell slightly in July and business optimism rose, according to official data released today.
The data added to the tentative signs that the region’s economy is staging a modest comeback.
Europe’s statistics office said the number of unemployed in the euro zone was down by 15,000 to 19.23 million, marking the second consecutive fall since April 2011. The jobless rate remained at a record of high of 12.1%.
Meanwhile, an index of European business sentiment rose again on the month while the monthly inflation rate for the 17 nations using the euro decreased.
“The recent improvements are minimal, and the situation is still very fragile,” said European Union Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor. “This is no time for celebration or complacency,” he added.
The economy of the euro zone had been stuck in an 18-month recession up until the first quarter of this year as a debt crisis prompted many countries to pursue tough austerity policies that weighed on growth and confidence. The euro zone finally moved out of recession in the second quarter of this year, showing a 0.3% increase in annual economic output.
In a further upbeat signal for the region’s economy, an index tracking economic sentiment increased by 2.7 points to 95.2 in the euro zone and by 3.1 points to 98.1 in the wider EU, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase in both areas, while reaching a two-year high in the EU.
The monthly unemployment rate again varied widely between some of the bloc’s leading economies such as Germany or Austria, with 5.3% and 4.8% respectively, and crisis-hit southern European nations such as Spain and Greece, where more than one in four people were unemployed.
Analysts said the euro zone seasonally adjusted unemployment figures came as another indicator that the bloc has left the recession behind, even if growth remains meagre.
The unemployment rate for the 28-nation EU held steady at 11% as the number of jobless fell 33,000 to 7.42 million, Eurostat said. On the year, EU unemployment was up from 10.5% while the euro zone rate was up from 11.5%.
EU youth unemployment in July remained high with a total of 5.56 million under 25 registered as unemployed, even though it dipped slightly from 23.5% to 23.4% on the month. For the euro zone, it rose by 0.1 point to 24%.
Separately, the euro zone annual inflation is expected to be 1.3% in August, down from 1.6% in July, according to a Eurostat estimate. That is far below the European Central Bank’s 2% price stability ceiling, leaving further room for loose monetary policies.

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