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Eurozone unemployment at record high

The rate of unemployment in the eurozone hit 12% in February – a record high, according to official figures.

The European statistics agency Eurostat said that in the 17 countries using the euro currency more than 19 million men and women were unemployed.

Compared to February 2012, there are 1.775 million more people out of work in the eurozone.

The highest jobless rates were 26.4% in Greece and 26.3% in Spain.

The lowest unemployment rates recorded by Eurostat were in Austria (4.8%) and Germany (5.4%), both unchanged from January. The overall unemployment rate for the eurozone in January was revised up from 11.9% to 12%.

Across the 27 member states of the European Union, the unemployment rate rose to 10.9%, up from 10.8% the previous month.

The figures revealed that young Europeans are the worst hit by this mass unemployment. In February 2013, the unemployment rate for under 25 year olds hit 58.4% in Greece (data for December 2012), 55.7% in Spain, 38.2% in Portugal and 37.8% in Italy.

Spending cuts and tax increases aimed at trimming debt and addressing the financial crises in bailed-out euro zone countries, and the rising rate of joblessness in much of the currency bloc, "are feeding off of each other," said Mark Cliffe, chief economist at ING Group.

He added: "It's a bit of a vicious circle, Europe is pursuing a policy that is self-evidently failing."