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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 16:58 GMT
EU unemployment stabilises
Job centre in Britain
Britain's 5.1% unemployment rate is lower than the EU's average
The number of people out of work in the euro zone and the EU stood still in January.

According to the Eurostat, EU's statistical agency, the jobless rate in the 12-nation single currency union stayed at 8.4% in January, unchanged from the month before, despite analysts' prediction of 0.2% rise.

Unemployment in the euro zone stood at the same level in January 2001.

The unemployment level in all the 15-member European union stood at 7.7%, also unchanged from the month before.

"The euro zone has been surprisingly resilient. There have not been as many job lay-offs as one may have thought", said Kevin Gaynor, head of euro zone economic research at UBS Warburg in London.

Best and worst

Unemployment in Europe
Spain - 12.8%
Finland - 10.0%
France - 9.0%
Germany - 8.1%
Belgium - 6.7%
Sweden - 5.2%
Britain - 5.1%
Portugal - 4.3%
Denmark - 4.2%
Ireland - 4.2%
Austria - 3.9%
Luxembourg - 2.6
Netherlands - 2.4
The Netherlands is still the best performer in the region with 2.4% unemployment.

Austria, Portugal, Ireland and Luxembourg showed the most rigid relative increase at 0.3% during the year.

Spain with 12.8% jobless is lagging behind the rest of Europe.

Election worries

The figures for France and Germany are being watched closely as both countries hold elections shortly with unemployment being one of the main voter concerns.

Both countries recorded a modest 0.1% unemployment rise, although France's labour ministry said the rate was unchanged.

Critics accuse both France and Germany of cooking the books in an attempt to calm voters ahead of elections.

The UK with its 5.1% unemployment rate is doing better than the majority of the European nations.

Labour reforms ahead

The unemployment figures came ahead of a meeting of the EU leaders in Barcelona on 15 March with labour market reform high on the agenda.

The EU has pledged to create 20 million new jobs by the end of the decade.

European laws give workers much more protection from dismissal than the US, but are blamed for slowing the creation of new jobs.

See also:

22 Feb 02 | Business
Schroeder moves to mend jobs scandal
16 Jan 02 | Business
UK unemployment rises again
27 Feb 02 | Business
UK economy stalls
28 Feb 02 | Business
French unemployment stabilises
15 Jan 02 | Business
Europe's economies bounce back
08 Jan 02 | Business
EU economic confidence steadies
30 Nov 01 | Business
France and Germany lose jobs
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