Unemployment in the euro area has remained stubbornly high since the start of the new year, with fresh January figures providing no silver lining. Young people remained among those hit hardest by the lack of jobs.
Joblessness in the 18-member bloc using the euro currency held steady at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 12 percent for the fourth consecutive month in January, the European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, reported Friday.
It said more than 19 million people were out of work, with youth unemployment remaining a big headache for policy makers.
In the first month of the current year, more than 3.5 million people under the age of 25 were without a job, resulting in a youth unemployment rate of 24 percent for the second month in a row.
Subdued deflation worries
Eurostat also reported the area's monthly inflation rate was unchanged at 0.8 percent for the third consecutive month in February. Consumer prices stayed well below the European Central Bank's annual inflation target of under, but close to 2 percent.
A further lowering of the inflation rate would have put the ECB under more pressure to act at its upcoming board meeting next week.
"But the likelihood of the ECB to further lower its benchmark interest rates or take other measures has now diminished," HSBC Trinkaus analyst Lothar Hessler told the Reuters news agency.
hg/msh (dpa, Reuters)