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Eurozone unemployment lowest in 18 months, but disparities are huge

The number of jobless people across the 18-member euro area has fallen for the first time in many months. But the bloc's statistics agency warned that youth unemployment still remained a major issue.

Eurozone unemployment dipped to 11.7 percent in April, slightly down from the 11.8 percent recorded a month earlier, the bloc's statistics office, Eurostat, reported on Tuesday.

The seasonally-adjusted rate last fell in December 2012, meaning the April figure meant an end to a protracted period of stagnation.

In the month under review, a total of 18.75 million people were without a job, down by 76,000 if compared with the month before, and down by 487,000 in a year-on-year comparison.

Vast disparities

The new Eurostat data once more revealed a rather heterogeneous picture. While Austria and Germany logged jobless rates of around 5 percent only, Greece and Spain booked rates beyond the 25-percent mark.

Eurozone jobless ranks included 3.38 million people under the age of 25, resulting in a youth unemployment rate of 23.5 percent.

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Germany: Land of opportunity?

In the wider, 28-member European Union, the overall jobless rate fell to 10.4 percent, while youth unemployment stood at 22.5 percent despite a series of measures taken by national governments to ease the dire situation on the labor market.

Analysts argued that current growth rates were too low to lead to a speedy turnaround of the employment situation on the continent. The eurozone for instance is expected to grow by no more than 0.5 percent in the second quarter.

hg/ng (Reuters, dpa)

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