Apr 02, 2013 5:09 PM GMT
The jobless rate reached 12 percent in both January and February, the highest since the creation of the euro in 1999, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg.
The January jobless rate for the 17-nation currency union was revised upward from the previously reported 11.9 percent.
For the overall European Union, the February jobless rate rose to 10.9 percent from 10.8 percent in January, Eurostat said, with more than 26 million people without work across the 27-nation bloc.
European officials continue to hold out hope that the economy, which continued to shrink in the first quarter of 2013, will begin turning around in the second half of the year. Many private sector forecasters are more pessimistic, expecting a contraction of as much as 2 percent in the euro zone’s gross domestic product this year, after a 0.9 percent contraction last year.