Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro remained at 11% last month, the highest it has been since the currency was introduced, according to new data released by the European Union.
More than 17.4 million people in the region were out of work last month, a troubling increase as the Eurozone grapples with how to muscle out of its debt crisis.The newly released figures testify to the continued pain across Europe as it struggles with competing demands to rein in spending and nurture growth.
That pain is far worse in some countries than others: Spain suffered a 24% joblessness rate, the worst in the European Union. A banking crisis there has sunk stock prices and alarmed investors fearful of a run on Spanish banks. Borrowing rates have soared to precarious heights.
Greece was close behind with nearly 22% unemployment, while Latvia and Portugal tied around 15%. (Greek figures date to February.) The lowest rates were in Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where unemployment rates ranged from roughly 4% to more than 5%.
Despite the grim numbers, there were some hopeful signs for the European Union. Though the unemployment rate grew in 15 EU nations, it fell at least marginally in 12 others, including Ireland, where voters signed off on a European treaty to limit government spending despite opponents' frustration with austerity cuts.
This map spotlights the EU nations suffering the highest unemployment rates, shaded in orange, and those with the lowest, tinted in blue:
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles