Unemployment across countries that use the euro edged higher in February to 10.8%.
That’s up from 10.7% in January and the highest level since the introduction of the single currency in 1999. Spain has the highest rate of 23.6%.
Meanwhile, a separate report confirmed that manufacturing activity in Europe shrank in February.
It is the eighth month in a row that the Purchasing Manager’s Index has been below 50, which indicates contraction.
France was particularly weak, with manufacturing activity falling to the lowest level in almost three years.
“Eurozone manufacturers suffered a miserable March, with a renewed downturn in production wiping out marginal gains seen in the first two months of the year,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.
- Spain 23.6%
- Portugal 15.0%
- France 10.0%
- Italy 9.3%
- Germany 5.7%
“Manufacturing is therefore likely to have acted as a drag on economic growth in the eurozone in the first quarter, falling to a lesser extent than in the final quarter of last year but nevertheless failing to prevent the economy sliding back into recession,” he said.
Other economists agree that the euro area is probably in recession.
“It looks odds-on that eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.
“And the prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy.”
BBC has the full article