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Eurozone unemployment hits new peak

Unemployment in the eurozone rose to a record 11.7% in October. Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, says 18.7 million people were out of work across the 17 EU countries that use the euro.

The increase from the previous month's 11.6% was anticipated in light of the eurozone's return to recession in the third quarter.

Spain and Greece have the region's highest unemployment rates - both over 25%, with youth unemployment levels heading towards 60%.

Eurostat also says that inflation in the eurozone fell by more than anticipated to 2.2 % in November.

However, it is still above the European Central Bank's target of keeping price rises at just below 2%. While the eurozone's unemployment has been inching upward since June 2011, the equivalent rate in the US has fallen to below 8% as the world's largest economy continues its recovery from recession. In October, it stood at 7.9%.

Eurostat found 18.7 million people were out of work across the eurozone, an increase of 173,000 on the previous month. The wider 27-nation EU that includes non-euro countries such as Britain and Poland had an unemployment rate of 10.7% and a total of 25.9 million out of work.

"The level of unemployment in Europe remains unacceptably high," said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

Mr Todd said all EU countries should implement a new scheme - to be officially proposed next week - to help young jobless people. The scheme would ensure that, within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed, a young person would be offered a job, further education, a traineeship or an apprenticeship.

"This would extend to the whole of the EU existing good practice that exists in, for example, Austria, Finland and Sweden," he said.

Many economists think that unemployment in many countries will carry on rising for months to come, certainly as long as the economies remain in recession. At present, the five euro countries at the forefront of the debt crisis - Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal - are in recession. (Eurostat)

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