Unemployment in the 18-member eurozone has remained stubbornly high as economic growth has not been strong enough to impact the labor market decisively. But the latest figures revealed a silver lining.
The euro-area jobless rate stayed near record highs at 12 percent in December, unchanged from a revised November figure, the European Statistics Office (Eurostat) reported Friday.
It said 19.1 million people were out of work in the final month of last year, down 129,000 from the previous month, but up 130,000 from December 2012 when the debt crisis was at its peak.
But while overall unemployment remained stubbornly high, youth joblessness in the eurozone went down, albeit marginally, for the first time since May of last year.
The rate for people aged below 25 dropped to 23.8 percent in December, with a total of 3.5 million people in that age bracket still out of work - 23,000 fewer, though, than in November.
A separate Eurostat release showed Friday that eurozone consumer prices dropped unexpectedly in January mainly due to a sharp decline in energy costs.
Inflation fell to 0.7 percent year-on-year, down from 0.8 percent in December, further complicating the European Central Bank's task of supporting the bloc's fragile economy.
hg/pfd (dpa, Reuters, AFP)