The unemployment rate in the euro area continued to decline in November, standing at 8.7 percent against 8.8 percent in October, the European Statistical Office, Eurostat, revealed on Tuesday.
The rate, the lowest since January 2009, is in line with the expectations of the experts interviewed by the financial services provider Factset.
The unemployment rate in the eurozone has been falling since it was fell below the symbolic threshold of 10 percent in September 2016.
In January 2009, it was exactly 8.7 percent before jumping the one month later to 9 percent.
At the worst of the debt crisis, unemployment reached a record 12.1 percent in April, May and June 2013 in the euro area.
Since then, the economic situation has slowly improved, but unemployment still remains much higher than the average rate before the 2007-2008 financial crisis, when it was 7.5 percent.
In its autumn forecast, released on November 9, the European Commission forecast an average unemployment rate in the euro area of 9.1 percent in 2017, which would fall to 8.5 percent in 2018, then to 7.9 percent in 2019.
Despite a steady decline, significant disparities remain among the 19 countries that have adopted the single currency.
The lowest unemployment rate in November is – once again– recorded in Germany and Malta (3.6 percent). And the highest rates were again recorded in Greece (20.5 percent in September 2017, the last available figure) and Spain (16.7 percent).
In France, it was 9.2 percent in November against 9.3 percent in October.
The unemployment rate is much higher among people under 25 in the euro area as a whole at 18.2 percent. Here too, the differences are enormous. In Germany, it was 6.6 percent, while in the southern European countries it was much higher.
Thus in Greece, it stood at 39.5 percent (in September 2017), Spain at 37.9 percent, Italy at 32.7 percent, Portugal at 23.7 percent, and France at 21.8 percent.
In the EU as a whole, the unemployment rate stood at 7.3 percent in November, down from the October rate of 7.4 percent.