Euro Area Unemployment Reaches 12.1% in May

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By way of contrast, during the depths of the U.S. recession, unemployment peaked at 10.1%. Eurostat announced that May unemployment in the euro area hit 12.1% in May, staggering given the fact that the area is the largest in the world by gross domestic product (GDP). It is one more signal that the economic trouble in the area has gotten worse, despite tiny improvements in the rate at which purchasing managers index (PMI) continues to drop, based on June Markit data.

Eurostat reported:

The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1% in May 2013, up from 12.0% in April 4. The EU271 unemployment rate was 10.9%, stable compared with the previous month. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with May 2012, when they were 11.3% and 10.4% respectively.

The nations that have been in the deepest recession got to worst of it again:

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.7%), Germany (5.3%) and Luxembourg (5.7%), and the highest in Spain (26.9%) and Greece (26.8% in March 2013).

Among the young (those under age 25), the situation was much more dire:

In May 2013, the lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.6%), Austria (8.7%) and the Netherlands (10.6%), and the highest in Greece (59.2% in March 2013), Spain (56.5%) and Portugal (42.1%).

The reality that six out of 10 people could be unemployed overwhelms even the figures of the U.S. Great Recession. And it begs the question how these people can live, particularly in countries in which support for the unemployed as ended.