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14.03.2013 10:31

Euro-Zone employment falls in 4Q to lowest level in nearly 7 years

The number of people holding down jobs in the euro zone fell to its lowest level in nearly seven years in the final three months of 2012, official figures showed Thursday, a stark illustration of the economic and social price of the bloc's fiscal crisis.

Employment in the 17 countries that use the euro fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter from the third, to 145.7 million in seasonally adjusted terms, the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat said.

That is the lowest number since the first quarter of 2006.

Euro-zone employment peaked at 150.4 million in the first quarter of 2008, Eurostat said, a few months before the financial crisis reached its worst point with the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The fourth-quarter figures compare with an employment total of 146.8 million in the corresponding period of 2011, meaning more than a million people in the currency bloc have lost their job in the past year.

Rising numbers of jobless people have raised the pressure on euro-zone leaders seeking to cut borrowing levels in a bid to end the fiscal crisis. Elections in Italy, the third-largest euro-zone economy, last month showed growing support for anti-austerity parties.

Eurostat's figures showed employment fell sharply in the highly indebted countries most deeply affected by the crisis. The number of people with jobs fell 2% quarter-on-quarter in Portugal, 1.4% in Spain, 1.3% in Cyprus, and 0.4% in Italy. Figures for Greece and Ireland, other countries badly weakened by the crisis, weren't available.

By contrast, employment rose 0.1% in Germany, 0.6% in Luxembourg and 0.2% in Austria.

14.03.2013 10:45

European stocks advanced

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