Eurozone employment figures at five-year low
The number of people with a job across the eurozone is at the lowest level in five years, according to new figures from the European Commission.
The figures highlight the disconnect between political progress that has eased concerns in the markets about the fate of the euro and the so-called real economy, which continues to suffer from a lack of economic demand.
Employment across the 17-member currency union dropped 0.3pc in the last three months of 2012, according to Eurostat, the European Union's official statistics agency.
The figures do not include up-to-date figures for Ireland, but the numbers at work in France and Italy were down slightly, with big falls in Spain, where employment slid 4.5pc. Portugal saw the number in work tumble 4.3pc while Greece was down 6.5pc compared to the previous year.
Ireland is bucking the trend when it comes to the unemployment rate, which has fallen recently. Across Europe, though, the situation remains bleak. Even export-oriented Germany recorded only a modest rise in job numbers.
Unlike unemployment statistics such as the live register, which can miss people who lose their jobs and move abroad, employment figures are seen as a good gage of the level of economic activity.
The new Eurostat figures bear out earlier data that showed joblessness was at an all-time high in January.
Worryingly for policymakers, the biggest jobs increases recorded in Europe happened outside the eurozone.
Romania added 3.5pc more jobs in 2012 and the number at work in Latvia was up 2.8pc at the end of 2012 compared to the previous year.
Inside the eurozone, tiny Luxembourg did generate a healthy 2.2pc jobs growth.