Eurozone unemployment hits new high with a quarter of under-25s jobless; overall unemployment now at staggering 12.2%
June 2, 2013
Protesters who picketed the European Central Bank on Friday are planning a second day of action across European cities as anger grows over austerity measures that many blame for taking Eurozone unemployment to an all-time high.
In rain and strong winds, members of the Blockupy movement cut off access to the ECB’s Frankfurt headquarters and vowed to keep up the disruption on Saturday in a financial hub they describe as a seat of “dictated austerity”. Their action came as official figures showed eurozone unemployment hit a new high last month with young people again the hardest hit – almost one in four are now out of work.
Unemployment in the crisis-stricken currency bloc rose to 12.2% for April, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU. At 24.4%, youth unemployment was double the wider jobless rate and up from 24.3% in March. The problem was most extreme in Greece where almost two-thirds of those under-25 are unemployed. The rate was 62.5% in February, the most recently available data.
The numbers come days after eurozone leaders unveiled plans to get more young people into work as they faced warnings about the risks of civil unrest, long-term economic costs and fears that a generation could lose faith in the European project.
In Frankfurt Blockupy protesters blamed the troika of institutions it says is pushing austerity measures on southern Europe: the ECB, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and perhaps most importantly, capitalism. Blockupy’s Roland Süss said: “With the blockade of the ECB we are making the European resistance against the devastating poverty policy visible. It’s an expression of our solidarity with the people in southern Europe whose existence is threatened by the austerity programs.”
Blockupy, a European version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, put the number of activists blocking the ECB at 3,000. There was a more conservative estimate of between 1,000 and 1,500 from police, who used pepper spray to prevent the protesters breaking into the central bank’s high-rise building. Protesters also targeted Deutsche Bank’s headquarters and Frankfurt’s airport. The movement and other anti-austerity groups are threatening rallies throughout European cities on Saturday, including London.
While France and Germany responded to growing anger at youth unemployment this week with a new jobs plan, labor market experts warn that any measures will take time to turn the tide after 24 consecutive monthly rises in the jobless level. Economists say things will get worse before they get better for the 19.4 million people in the eurozone out of work.
In the wider EU area unemployment stood at 11%, as the rate rose in all but nine countries compared with a year earlier. The biggest rises in overall joblessness on a year ago were in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Youth unemployment in Spain is 56.4%, in Portugal 42.5%. Italy recorded its highest overall unemployment rate since records began in 1977, at 12%, with youth joblessness at 40.5%. Economists said that the rise in unemployment was fairly broad-based with rises in so-called core countries as well, including Belgium and the Netherlands. The rate in France was 11%.
Ireland recorded one of the biggest falls in unemployment, down to 13.5% from 14.9% a year ago. That compares with a rate of 7.7% for the UK, where youth unemployment is 20.2%.
Update: Today, the clashes sparked by this outrageous reality continued in Frankfurt, Germany with thousands on the streets. See video here.