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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Record low for euro jobless rate
Volkswagen workers
German exporters have been hiring more staff
Unemployment in the eurozone in February was at its lowest rate since records began, official figures show.

Data from Eurostat showed that the seasonally adjusted jobless rate among the 13 countries using the euro was 7.3%, down from 7.4% in January.

Earlier this week, both Germany and France said that companies expanding had helped to cut unemployment.

Eurostat figures also showed annual inflation in the eurozone rose to 1.9% in March, up from 1.8% in February.

The European Central Bank is keen to keep inflation just below 2%, and having raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point to 3.75% this month, is tipped to increase them again, as soon as June.

Booming exports

The 0.5% fall in unemployment in Germany, the eurozone's biggest economy, accounted for much of the fall in joblessness in the bloc.

German and foreign firms increased investment while construction orders rose following the country's mildest winter on record, pushing firms to expand their workforces.

Meanwhile, booming export growth and stronger consumer demand also encouraged companies to continue hiring.

In France, unemployment fell to its lowest rate in 24 years in February, according to government figures.

The jobless rate dropped to 8.4% of the working population, down from 8.5% in January and 9.6% in February last year.

"Falling unemployment is boosting consumer confidence and spending and proving a much firmer underlay for sustainable growth in the next few years," said Bear Stearn economist David Brown.


SEE ALSO
German jobless rate drops again
29 Mar 07 |  Business
Big drop in French unemployment
29 Mar 07 |  Business

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