Unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro hit another all-time high in May, official data showed today. Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said the eurozone's unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point in May to 12.1%. April's unemployment rate was initially estimated to be 12.2%, but it was revised down to 12% thanks to new data. The figures will make sobering reading for the region's politicians as they gather this week to tackle youth unemployment—nearly one in four people aged under-25 are out of work—and the damage it is doing to the eurozone's economy and social fabric.
Across the eurozone, there were 19.22 million people unemployed, 67,000 higher than the previous month, though a closer look shows that Italy was largely behind the increase. Even though the monthly rises outside of Italy were relatively modest, analysts still expect unemployment in the eurozone to continue to rise as the region remains stuck in recession that started in late 2011. Most economists think it will be a close call whether the eurozone's recession comes to an end this quarter. The eurozone's poorest performers were Spain, at 26.9%, and Greece, with 26.8%. (Read more eurozone stories.)