Unemployment in the euro zone rose to a new record high in May, while manufacturing activities fell for the 11th consecutive month in June. That suggests the region's economy ended the second quarter on a weaker footing and increases the likelihood the European Central Bank will cut its key interest rate when its governing council meets Thursday.
The increase in the level of euro zone unemployment in May, by 88,000, was the 13th increase in a row, taking the rate to a new record high of 11.1 percent in May, compared to 11 percent in April, the European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, said Monday.
Joblessness in Spain, the worst in the single-currency bloc, rose again to 24.6 percent from 24.3 percent in April. In France, the euro zone's second-largest economy, unemployment nudged up to 10.1 percent in May from four previous months in which it had been unchanged at 10 percent.
In Germany, meanwhile, the rate was unchanged at 5.6 percent, while Italy saw its rate nudge down slightly to 10.1 percent from 10.2 percent.
Over the past 14 months, the total number of people out of work in the single-currency bloc has risen by almost 2 million people, according to Eurostat.
The labor market is a lagging indicator of overall economic conditions. So it is of particular concern that recent business surveys have pointed to renewed recession across the euro zone, Mark Miller, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.
We expect unemployment to increase further this year and next, with the euro zone unemployment rate to move toward 12.5 percent by the end of next year, Miller added.
A separate report showed euro zone manufacturing fell in June at its fastest rate in three years. The final reading of the manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) was 45.1, unchanged from May, Markit Economics said Monday.
Although the final reading came in above the preliminary reading of 44.8, it held at its lowest reading since June 2009. The below-50 reading means factory activity in the 17 nations that use the euro contracted in June.
While Germany's economy has weathered Europe's debt crisis far better than its neighbors, the country's PMI still fell to its lowest reading in three years in June, marking the fourth consecutive month that the index has been in contraction territory.
The euro area's next three biggest economies also suffered steep declines in manufacturing.
France's PMI reading edged up, to 45.2 from 44.7, but still showed a sharp contraction in activity. Italian manufacturing activity shrank for the ninth straight month with a reading of 44.6, down from 44.8. Spain's PMI fell to 41.1 from 42.0, its weakest reading in more than three years.
Despite the dismal results, most European stock markets rose Monday. The Euro Stoxx 50 Index rose more than 1 percent to 2,290.20.