Euro zone unemployment rose to the highest in almost 15 years and manufacturing contracted for a ninth month.
According to the European Unionâ€™s statistics office, the unemployment rate in the 17-nation area sharing the euro increased to 10.9 percent in March from 10.8 percent in February. This is the highest level since 1997. The number of people out of work in the region reached a record high of 17.4 million in March.
Markit Economics reported that the manufacturing gauge in the region fell to 45.9 in April from 47.7 in March, indicating further that the euro zone economy continues to weaken.
A recent survey of economists showed that the European Central Bank is likely to keep its benchmark interest rate at 1 percent, in order to stimulate growth in the region.
In the 27-nation European Union, the unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in March, unchanged from the previous month and up from 9.4 percent in March last year.
Spain had the regionâ€™s highest unemployment rate in March, at 24.4 percent, Greece came in second with 21.7 percent. The lowest jobless rates were in Austria and the Netherlands, at 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
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