Unemployment in the 16-nation eurozone has climbed to 9.5 per cent, its highest rate in a decade, EU data shows.
More than 15 million people are out of work across the zone, with about 273,000 jobs lost in May, the Eurostat data agency estimated.
The increase in people without work was expected, with the eurozone experiencing a 2.5 per cent drop in output in the first quarter of 2009.
Howard Archer, an economist at consultants IHS Global Insight, said: “Deep and extended economic contraction, depressed business confidence and deteriorating profitability is pushing unemployment up sharply across the eurozone.”
The May eurozone unemployment rate was up from 9.3 per cent in April and 7.4 per cent in May 2008.
‘Rates to rise’
Spain was shown to have the biggest jobless rate among eurozone nations, with 18.7 per cent unemployment.
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The lowest unemployment rate was in the Netherlands, where only 3.2 per cent of the working population were without a job in May.
Meanwhile, in the 27-nation EU, the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 per cent in May, hitting the highest level since June 2005.
Eurostat estimated that in total 21.5 million people were unemployed across the EU in May, of which 15 million were in the euro area.
Jennifer McKeown from Capital Economics, a research company, said the worst was not over for the job market.
“Survey measures of hiring intentions point to a further easing in the rate of job cuts to come,” she said.
“But given that labour market developments tend to lag behind those in the wider economy, unemployment almost certainly has considerably further to rise. We expect the rate to reach about 12 per cent next year.”