BRUSSELS— Unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has risen to a record 11.9 percent but inflation has fallen to its lowest level in two and a half years, official figures showed Friday.
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said nearly 19 million people are unemployed in the eurozone following an increase of around 200,000 in January. That took the rate up from January’s 11.8 percent, the previous record.
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The increase was not a particular surprise given that the eurozone economy as a whole is in recession and expected to continue to contract in the first half of 2013.
The overall rate masks huge divergences though. While Greece and Spain languish under the weight of mass unemployment of over 25 percent, economies like Germany are operating with relatively low levels around the 5 percent mark.
However, those Europeans unable to find work may get some relief if the fall in inflation prompts the European Central Bank to cut interest rates again.