Unemployment in the seventeen economies using the euro currency remained unchanged at 10 percent (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in August in line with expectations. A year ago in August 2010, the rate was slightly higher at 10.2 percent.
Meanwhile unemployment in the whole European Union was 9.5 percent in August also unchanged compared with July. It was 9.6 percent in August 2010.
Italy also released its own unemployment figures today showing a drop in August to 7.9 percent from 8 percent in July. The rate declined to 8 percent in the second quarter from a revised 8.1 percent in the previous three-month period. Economists had predicted the rate would be unchanged in August
The decline in joblessness surprised economists because Italy has undertaken a strict austerity measures aimed at shielding the country from the debt crisis.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government passed a 54 billion-euro ($73 billion) package of spending cuts and tax increases in August to convince the European Central Bank to purchase debt from the government and Italian bonds after the nation’s borrowing costs surged to euro-era records. The plan also aims to ease firing rules to encourage companies to take on workers.