EMU: Unemployment Rate

Tue Mar 31 04:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Level 11.1% 11.3% 11.2% 11.4%

The jobless rate dipped a tick in line with expectations last month but only after the January rate had been revised up 0.2 percentage points to 11.4 percent. Some 18.204 million people were out of work in February, a decline of 49,000 versus the start of the year, and, at 11.3 percent the unemployment rate was at its lowest level since May 2012.

Youth unemployment was unchanged at 22.9 percent.

Regionally Germany (4.8 percent) was at the bottom of the jobless ladder, comfortably beneath Austria (5.3 percent) and Luxembourg (5.8 percent). Greece (26.0 percent in December) continued to occupy the top rung ahead of Spain (23.2 percent) and Cyprus 16.3 percent).

Despite the revisions, Eurozone unemployment is at least trending down and February's rate was 0.5 percentage points below its mark a year ago and 0.8 percentage points short of its April 2013 record high. That said, progress is painfully slow and current levels remain unacceptably high and a major political threat to many EMU governments.

The unemployment rate measures the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.

Unemployment data are closely monitored by the financial markets. These data give a comprehensive report on the state of the economy and its future direction. A rising unemployment rate can be a warning sign of hard times while a low rate can be a warning of inflation as wages are bid up to attract labor.

Unemployment data are expressed in both a numerical value and as a percentage of the labor force. Generally, the definition of those unemployed follows that of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It states that an unemployed person is one between the ages of 15 to 74 years of age who was not employed during the reference week, had actively sought work during the past four weeks and was ready to begin working immediately or within two weeks. The unemployment rate is the percentage of unemployed persons over the total number of active persons in the labor market. Active persons are those who are either employed or unemployed.

Eurostat provides an unemployment rate for each EU country as well as for the EMU and EU as a whole. It should be noted that the unemployment rate for a country will frequently differ with that reported by the national statistics agency. That is because of the varying interpretations of the ILO definition by member states and Eurostat.