Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

Euro-Area Unemployment Declines to Lowest Level in Eight Years

  • Joblessness falls to 9.5 percent, in line with estimate
  • Unemployment lowest in Germany, highest in Greece and Spain

Euro-area unemployment fell to the lowest level in almost eight years in February, in a sign that the region’s economy is strengthening.

Joblessness decreased to 9.5 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said on Monday. That’s the lowest since May 2009 and matches the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Unemployment has been decreasing steadily from a peak of more than 12 percent in 2013 as the European Central Bank deployed unprecedented stimulus to rekindle growth and fuel inflation. Euro-area factory growth accelerated in March, climbing to the highest since 2011, as an improving global economy boosted export demand in the region’s biggest economies.

ECB President Mario Draghi, who has repeatedly urged governments to implement reforms to reduce structural unemployment and boost growth potential, has said the recent decline shows the success of the central bank’s 2.28 trillion-euro ($2.4 trillion) stimulus plan.

“Those who had doubts about the equity of our asset purchase program are being answered because the most equitable measure of all is to create employment and to decrease unemployment,” he said in March.

The lowest rate in the region -- 3.9 percent -- was recorded in Germany, while joblessness in Spain was 18 percent, according to the report. In Greece, 23.1 percent were out of work in December, the latest month for which data are available.

— With assistance by Andre Tartar, Kristian Siedenburg, and Alice Baghdjian

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