The Countries With the Highest Unemployment

10. Italy
> Unemployment rate: 11.6%
> Credit rating (outlook): Baa2 (negative)
> GDP per capita: $30,136.38
> GDP growth: -2.37%
> Debt pct. of GDP: 126.98%

Italy’s unemployment rate rose in the past year from an already bad 10.1% in February 2012 to an even worse 11.6% in February 2013. For Italy’s youngest workers, those under 25, the job market is even worse. Nearly 38% of them were unemployed in February. In 2012, Italy’s GDP fell by nearly 2.4%. The IMF expects this contraction to continue in 2013, and estimates its GDP will drop an additional 1.5% this year. Italy’s general government debt totaled roughly 127% of national GDP in 2012, one of the highest among countries surveyed. Also, the country’s general election in February remain in a deadlock. Despite these, IMF economist Jorg Decressin recently noted that Italy was making progress in repairing its economy.

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9. Bulgaria
> Unemployment rate: 12.5%
> Credit rating (outlook): Baa2 (stable)
> GDP per capita: $14,311.58
> GDP growth: 0.78%
> Debt pct. of GDP: 18.50%

Many of the countries with high unemployment also have very high debt per capita. Bulgaria is an exception. The country’s debt is among the lowest in the world, at just 18.5% of GDP in 2012, compared to the United States’ 106.5% of GDP. In 2009, the eastern European nation had the 10th-lowest unemployment rate of the countries measured at just 6.8%. By 2012, unemployment had risen to 12.3%, the ninth-highest rate. Many of the economies with high unemployment rates are poorer than much of Europe, and none more so than Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s GDP per capita in 2012 was just $14,312, which is lower than all but one of the 31 countries measured by Eurostat.

8. Lithuania
> Unemployment rate: 13.1%
> Credit rating (outlook): Baa1 (stable)
> GDP per capita: $21,615.34
> GDP growth: 3.62%
> Debt pct. of GDP: 39.59%

In 2010, Lithuania’s average unemployment rate was 18%. While it fell to an average of 13.3% in 2012 and to 13.1% in February 2013, Lithuania’s unemployment rate remains among the highest among countries measured by Eurostat. Although the nation’s GDP fell by a whopping 14.9% in 2009, the second largest contraction of any nation in the world that year, the Lithuanian economy steadily has recovered from the global economic recession. GDP has risen in every following year, and the IMF predicts the nation’s gross debt — which nearly doubled between 2008 and 2009 — will remain nearly flat relative to GDP in the next few years. The IMF also noted the nation cut its budget deficit from more than 9% of GDP in 2009 to just an estimated 3% in 2012.

7. Cyprus
> Unemployment rate: 14.0%
> Credit rating (outlook): Caa3 (negative)
> GDP per capita: $27,085.98
> GDP growth: -2.43%
> Debt pct. of GDP: 86.21%

The unemployment rate in Cyprus has climbed steadily in recent months, and at 14% in February was nearly four percentage points above its 10.2% unemployment rate a year before. Last year, the country’s GDP declined by 2.4%, one of the largest declines in the world in 2012. Central to the nation’s problems were its banks, which lent heavily to Greece. In order to keep its economy afloat after the banking sector collapsed, Cyprus received a bailout package from the IMF and eurozone’s bailout fund. In January, Moody’s downgraded the country’s credit rating to Caa3, among the worst ratings, due to the problems the country’s banks are facing.

6. Ireland
> Unemployment rate: 14.2%
> Credit rating (outlook): Ba1 (negative)
> GDP per capita: $41,920.73
> GDP growth: 0.94%
> Debt pct. of GDP: 117.12%

For the past several years, Ireland has had extremely high unemployment. According to Eurostat, in 2010 the average unemployment rate was 13.9%. In 2011 and 2012, unemployment was even worse, at an average rate of 14.7% in both years. In recent years, the country has taken on large amounts of debt. Between 2009 and 2010 alone, the government’s debt rose from less than 65% of GDP to more than 92% of GDP, according to the IMF. Ireland’s 2010 bailout is likely a major reason for this rise. The bailout, provided by the IMF and European Union in late 2010, was used help the country cover its budget deficit. In 2010, government spending totaled nearly 65% of GDP, fourth most in the world. Last year, government spending totaled a more modest 41.6% of GDP.

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