Euro jobless rate surges to 8.5%

Unemployment in the 16 nations that share the euro rises to 8.5 per cent, with 319,000 more people out of work.

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Unemployment in the 16 nations that share the euro rose to 8.5 per cent in February, with some 319,000 more people in the region without work than in January, according to figures from the EU statistics office released today. In January, the unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent. Eurostat said the jobless rate across the entire 27-nation European Union is now 7.9 per cent, up from 7.7 per cent in January.

In the EU, 478,000 more people were looking for a job than in January, adding to some 19 million unemployed in the region. Unemployment is highest in Spain at 15.5 per cent, Latvia at 14.4 per cent and Lithuania at 13.7 per cent. All three saw the highest increase in jobless rates from a year ago as they were hit by the bursting of a housing bubble and a sharp downturn. Young people are far more likely to be jobless than a year ago, with the EU unemployment rate for under 25s at 17.5 per cent. It was 14.7 per cent in February 2008. * AP