The jobs market was stronger than expected in September. A sizeable 131,000 drop in the number of people out of work saw the unemployment rate decline from an already downwardly revised 10.9 percent in August to 10.8 percent, its lowest outturn since January 2012.
The surprisingly good news was led by the larger countries with three of the big four all posting lower national jobless rates. Hence, France recorded a 0.1 percentage point dip to 10.7 percent, although this reversed only half of August's rise, while Italy was also down a tick at 11.8 percent and Spain 0.2 percentage points lower at 21.6 percent. Since June, the rate has fallen a very respectable 0.7 percentage points in both Italy and Spain. Germany was unchanged at 4.5 percent but remained easily at the bottom end of the jobless ladder below Malta (5.1 percent) while Greece (25.0 percent in July) was even further adrift at the top.
With youth unemployment dipping a tick to 22.1 percent today's jobless data make unusually promising reading. The bigger picture is still one of politically unacceptably high levels of unemployment in many member states and for the Eurozone as a whole but at least the market looks to be headed in the right direction. This is likely to be vital if the recent downturn in consumer confidence is not to be furthered at the expense of prospective household spending.
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.
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