Apr 1, 11:29 AM EDT

European economic recovery not strong enough to make dent in near-record unemployment rate


AP Photo
AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
World Video
Buy AP Photo Reprints
Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
Japan logs record $134 billion trade deficit in fiscal 2013 on surging costs for imported fuel

US stocks edge mostly higher amid wave of earnings; GE and Morgan Stanley rise

How the Dow Jones industrial average and other major stock indexes fared Thursday

Travelzoo, Morgan Stanley, Mattel, Barnes & Noble and IBM are big market movers

US stocks edge mostly higher amid wave of earnings; GE and Morgan Stanley rise

Technology stocks lead an early decline in Wall Street after Google, IBM earnings disappoint

China's cheap factories face new challenge as economic growth inexorably slows

French premier vows to cut $29 billion in pensions, health and social care by 2017

Russian economic slows sharply amid Ukraine tensions, but Putin seen undeterred

UK unemployment falls below 7 percent as earnings growth outstrips inflation

Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The 18-country eurozone may have emerged from recession last year, but that has done little good to the jobs market, with unemployment stuck near a record high since then.

A new report on Tuesday showed that while the number of jobless in the currency union dipped in February, the unemployment rate remained at 11.9 percent - where it has been since October after peaking at 12.1 percent earlier in the year.

The figures, published by the Eurostat statistical agency, illustrate how long it will take for the continent's hardest-hit countries to return to economic health after years of financial upheaval.

"The figures suggest that the economic recovery is still too weak to make a significant dent in the high level of unemployment," said analyst Jonathan Loynes of Capital Economics.

The situation varies wildly from country to country.

While Germany continues to enjoy a low jobless rate of 5.1 percent, countries that had to make spending cuts to reduce debt are still suffering.

Spain has the bloc's highest rate alongside Greece - at 25.6 percent, down only slightly from 25.8 percent in January. Italy's labor market is in fact worsening - unemployment rose to a record 13 percent from 12.9 percent a month before.

Overall, the number of unemployed in the eurozone dropped, but only by 35,000, leaving almost 19 million still out of work.

In the wider 28-nation EU - which includes members like Britain and Poland that don't use the euro currency - the unemployment rate dipped to 10.6 percent from 10.7 percent in January.

Experts say joblessness is likely to take some time to come down. Businesses are still wary of hiring and investing after worrying about a global recession in 2008-2009 and the potential collapse of the eurozone after that. There is also mounting concern over low inflation, which raises the risk that consumers might put off spending in hopes of discounts later on.

The eurozone's economy is not growing quickly enough to bring confidence back.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, predicts the eurozone economy will pick up and grow 1.1 percent this year. While that would be the bloc's best performance since 2011, it would still pale in comparison to the U.S. economy, which is expected to grow around 3 percent.

"Unemployment remains worryingly high ... and seems unlikely to come down markedly any time soon given the probably gradual recovery," said Howard Archer, an analyst with IHS Global Insight.

That bodes ill for the young, the demographic that has been hit hardest by the recent financial crisis. The eurozone unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 dropped only slightly in February to 23.5 percent from 23.6 percent in January.

---

Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.