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Euro-zone unemployment hits 10%

January 29, 2010 | “MarketWatch"

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Unemployment in the 16-nation euro zone reached 10% in December for the first time, according to statistics released Friday, showing the slow economic recovery has yet to translate into job-making power.

Eurostat said the unemployment rate rose to 10% -- matching the jobless rate in the U.S. and a figure that economists had anticipated -- from a downwardly revised 9.9% in November.

Spain, which unlike many euro-zone members is still in a recession, had the highest unemployment rate in the euro area as its jobless rate climbed to 19.5% from 19.4%.

Of the major economies, Germany's unemployment rate stayed at 7.5% and France's stayed at 10%, while Italy's rose to 8.5% from 8.3%, the highest since 2004.

Ireland, which like Spain has been hard hit by a housing downturn, saw its jobless rate climb to 13.3% from 13%.

Eurostat didn't have data on the jobless rate in Greece, where statistics are notoriously hard to come by.

Across the euro area, the number of unemployed rose an estimated 87,000 to 15.76 million.

The jobless climb came as credit was still difficult to come by for both companies and households.

According to a quarterly survey released Friday by the European Central Bank, credit standards tightened in the euro area although at a slower pace than in previous quarters.

The survey said a turning point is closer but hasn't been reached.
State of the Union:Obama on Stimulus, Job-Creation

In his first State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama lauded his administration's economic stimulus and job-creation and protection measures.

Separately, money supply as defined by the M3 standard slipped 0.2% in the euro zone in December, the ECB said, which wasn't as big a decline as the 0.6% expected by economists.

The euro was up marginally, to $1.3966 from $1.3960 late Thursday. The euro of late has been hurt by concern over Greece's finances as rumors swirl, denied both by the Hellenic Republic and other states, of a European rescue package.

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

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