London: The unemployment rate in the 16-nation euro zone ballooned to 9.5% in May, the highest in 10 years, as the economies in the region continued to grapple with deepening recession.
For the 16 countries sharing the common currency euro, the jobless rate is the highest since May 1999.
Eurostat, the official statistical agency for the European community, on Thursday said the unemployment rate in 27-nation European Union jumped to 8.9% in May. The figure is the highest since June 2005.
“The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.5% in May 2009, compared with 9.3% in April. It was 7.4% in May 2008.
“The European Union unemployment rate was 8.9% in May 2009, compared with 8.7% in April. It was 6.8% in May 2008,” the Eurostat said in a statement.
Going by the official figures, 21.46 million men and women were unemployed in the European Union in May. Out of them, 15.01 million were in the euro area.
In comparison with April, the number of jobless persons climbed by 3,85,000 in the European Union and by 273,000 in the euro zone.
“Compared with May 2008, unemployment went up by 5.111 million in the European Union and by 3.40 million in the euro area,” the statement noted.
Battered by the global economic turmoil, many of the European economies are deep in recession. Consequently, a large number of companies in the region have resorted to massive layoffs as part of their measures to slash costs.
“Between May 2008 and May 2009, the unemployment rate for males rose from 6.7% to 9.3% in the euro area and from 6.4% to 8.9% in the European Union,” the statement noted.
Eurostat said that female unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 9.7% in the euro area and from 7.4% to 8.9% in the European Union.
Among the European nations, the highest jobless rates were recorded in Spain at 18.7%, followed by Latvia (16.3%) and Estonia (15.6%).
The lowest unemployment rates were reported in the Netherlands (3.2%) and Austria (4.3%).