New reports in the euro currency bloc show that Europe’s economic fortunes are declining, with unemployment up and manufacturing down.
The European Union reported Monday that the jobless rate in the 17-nation eurozone edged higher in February to 10.8 percent. The new figure was the highest point since the currency was introduced in 1999.
The EU said nearly a quarter of Spanish workers are unemployed, with double digit jobless rates recorded in six other countries as well.
Europe’s jobless figures contrast sharply with that of the United States — one of its major trading partners — where the number of unemployed workers has been dropping in recent months.
At the same time, financial information company Markit said its gauge of manufacturing in the eurozone fell in March. It was the eighth straight month the Markit survey showed eurozone manufacturing is shrinking.
The eurozone has been battling to resolve its two-year governmental debt crisis after sending $300 billion in rescue packages to debt-ridden Greece, Ireland and Portugal. But analysts say the eurozone has fallen into a recession as the effect of austerity measures imposed by several governments has curtailed economic growth.