EU: Unemployment rate rises to 6.6 percent in April

About 397,000 people lose their jobs in the EU, raising the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points.

    The eurozone has seen a long period of falling unemployment [Yara Nardi/Reuters]
    The eurozone has seen a long period of falling unemployment [Yara Nardi/Reuters]

    About 397,000 people have lost their jobs in the European Union in April, raising the unemployment rate in the 27-country alliance by 0.2 percentage points after most European countries imposed coronavirus containment measures.

    The European Union's official statistics agency reported on Wednesday unemployment at 6.6 percent in April, up from 6.4 percent in March 2020.

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    Luxembourg-based Eurostat saw a similar rate of increase in the eurozone currency area - a 19-country group - where joblessness rose to 7.3 percent in April, a 0.2 percent increase from 7.1 percent recorded in March.

    The eurozone has seen a long period of falling unemployment following a peak of more than 12 percent in 2012, though the number of people out of work differs greatly from country to country.

    Greece, Italy and Spain all face stubborn labour market issues, particularly affecting younger people.

    Unemployment benefits

    Since March, COVID-19 containment measures "have triggered a sharp increase in the number of claims for unemployment benefits across the EU", Eurostat said.

    The agency counts people as unemployed if they are out of work and "have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks".

    However, many people registered with national unemployment agencies were not actively looking for work if they were constrained by lockdown measures or childcare responsibilities.

    "This leads to discrepancies in the number of registered unemployed and those measured as unemployed," Eurostat said in a statement.

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    SOURCE: News agencies