Eurozone unemployment edges down to 10.1 per cent

Unemployment in the eurozone edged down to 10.1 per cent in May, its lowest level in nearly five years, according to data released Friday.

The European currency union has made some progress in whittling down the jobless rate in its territory since levels hit a record 12.1 per cent in 2013. However, many still consider it to be unacceptably high.

The number of people out of work in the 19-country eurozone decreased by 112,000 from April to May, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said. The drop was in line with analysts' expectations.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate is now at its lowest level since July 2011.

But "employment growth may have already peaked," warned Stephen Brown of the Capital Economics think tank.

"Given that at least some eurozone firms will probably delay hiring after the fallout of the UK's vote to leave the EU, there is a strong chance that the labour market recovery will slow," he added.

British voters opted in favour of so-called Brexit in a referendum on June 23. The country, which is not a eurozone member, is one of the EU's three largest economies.

Meanwhile, ING Bank analyst Bert Colijn said that the uptick in employment ahead of the British vote could "help mitigate the impact of the shock on the eurozone economy."

Almost 16.3 million people were out of work in the currency bloc in May. Almost 2.9 million of them were under the age of 25, leading to a youth unemployment rate of 20.7 per cent.

The Czech Republic, Malta and Germany continued to record the lowest jobless rates, with overall unemployment at around 4 per cent and youth unemployment ranging from 6.9 to 10.1 per cent.

Greece and Spain, meanwhile, continued to report the highest figures. In Spain it slipped just below the 20-per-cent mark, while Greece's March figure - the most recent available - stood at 24.1 per cent, with youth unemployment above 50 per cent.

In the wider 28-country European Union, unemployment dropped in May to 8.6 per cent, its lowest level in more than seven years. More than 21 million people were out of work in the bloc, of whom 4.2 million were under the age of 25.

Last update: Fri, 01/07/2016 - 18:30

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