Unemployment in the euro zone grew to 10.8 percent in February, up from 10.7 percent in the prior month and the highest level since the euro was adopted as a currency, Eurostat, the statistical arm of the European Commission, said Monday.
A disproportionate number of the 17.1 million people now unemployed in the 17-nation monetary union are people under 25, who are taking the brunt of the labor recession in Europe with a Depression-era unemployment rate of 22.4 percent.
Many of the 162,000 who became unemployed in February are citizens of countries undergoing stringent fiscal austerity, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Cyrus. Each of those countries saw local unemployment balloon by more than 0.2 percent in the month. Greece, the most devastated economy in Europe, did not report February numbers as part of the calculation. Instead, Eurostat used the 21 percent unemployment rate from December, likely less than the current measure, in the continent-wide tabulation.
We expect it to go higher, to reach 11 percent by the end of the year, Raphael Brun-Aguerre, an economist at JP Morgan, told Reuters. You have public sector job cuts, income going down, weak consumption. The economic growth outlook is negative and is going to worsen unemployment.
Indeed, rumbles of that negative outlook were present in another significant statistical release Monday morning. An index of manufacturing purchasing manager's outlook by private economic information firm Markit suggested euro zone manufacturing activity contracted at the fastest pace since August 2011.
The data come in the face of simmering discontent in Europe, as activists are warming up the spring months with plans for disruptive -- and likely violent -- demonstrations. Those would follow two general strikes, in Portugal and Spain, that took place in March.
There is a kind of resigned acceptance, but this resigned acceptance is not a stable equilibrium position, Erik Jones, a professor at John Hopkins University's satellite campus in Italy, told Reuters, suggesting that measure of social stability was likely to go away soon.
People do get fed up with being made to feel guilty for their horrible situation, he told the newswire.