New figures from EU statistical body Eurostat reveal that unemployment across the 28 member states remained stable between September and October 2014, falling fractionally year-on-year from 10.7% in 2013 to 10% in October this year.
It may seem a remote concern for jobbing Umbrella Company employees on a day-to-day basis, but what happens in the euro zone can have significant effects on the UK. Recent dire warnings about another recession beckoning in the euro zone could have serious consequences for the availability of contracting assignments, jobs and economic growth in the UK should it materialise. The latest figures will have a modest but significant calming effect on these concerns.
Germany and Austria boasted the lowest unemployment rates at 4.9% and 5.1% respectively, while the highest rates were seen in Spain (24%) and Greece (25.9%); however, the latter represented significant falls on the level recorded at the same time last year.
Year-on-year, Hungary saw the largest fall in the unemployment rate (10% in September 2013 to 7.3% in September 2014), Portugal (15.6% to 13.4%), Spain (26% to 24%) Bulgaria (13% to 11.1%) and Greece (27.8% to 25.9%).
Only five member states recorded increases in the unemployment rate. Italy and Finland recorded the largest rises, climbing from 12.3% to 13.2% and 8.3% to 8.9% respectively.
Across the pond in the US, the unemployment rate fell marginally from 5.9% in September to 5.8% in October, both figures well down on the 7.2% recorded in October 2013.