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Eurozone unemployment continues to rise as half of 16-24 year olds in Greece and Spain find themselves out of work

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Youth unemployment levels in the Eurozone continue to rise steadily with nearly 60% of under-25s in Greece and Spain now out of work, according to figures released today by the official European statistics agency Eurostat.

The study found that the average rate of youth unemployment in the Eurozone, for the under-25s, in November 2012 is 24%, this compares with 21% in November 2011.

Youth unemployment levels were highest in Greece (57.6%) and Spain (56.5%).

The study showed that in total there is now 26 million people unemployed across the wider European Union.

The lowest unemployment rates in the EU are in Austria (4.5%), Luxembourg (5.1%) and Germany (5.4%).

Laszlo Andor, the EU's employment commissioner, warned that record unemployment and fraying welfare systems in southern Europe risk creating a new divide in the continent.

"A new divide is emerging between countries that seem trapped in a downward spiral of falling output, fast rising unemployment and eroding disposable incomes and those that have so far shown good or at least some resilience," he said.

"Last year had been another very bad year for Europe in terms of unemployment and the deteriorating social situation." said Andor.

Andrea Broughton, principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: "The EU has recently launched a new package of measures designed to help young people in the EU gain access to work or training.

"The EU's new Youth Guarantee urges Member States to ensure that all young people receive either a quality offer of work, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. This is a laudable aim, although it will take some time for any such measures to have a real impact on the unemployment figures."

Broughton added: "Given that many EU Member States are still struggling with debt and implementing budget cuts, unemployment is likely to carry on rising for some time to come."