The euro area unemployment rate fell slightly in February ahead of the war in Ukraine, official data revealed on Thursday.
The jobless rate fell to 6.8 percent in February from 6.9 percent in January, Eurostat reported. The rate was forecast to drop to 6.7 percent from January’s initial estimated rate of 6.8 percent.
Data showed that the number of unemployed decreased by 181,000 from the prior month to 11.155 million in February. From the last year, unemployment decreased by 2.150 million.
The unemployment among youth aged below 25 dropped to 14.0 percent in February from 14.3 percent in January. Youth unemployment totaled 2.101 million in February.
The rapid recovery of the job market is set to slow from here on, Bert Colijn, an ING economist, said.
The war adds uncertainty to the employment outlook and could result in delayed new hiring, Colijn added. This is especially the case in manufacturing, as the industrial sentiment survey already revealed declining hiring expectations in March.
Still, the labor market remains very robust at current levels of unemployment, the economist noted.
In the EU27, the jobless rate came in at 6.2 percent in February, down from 6.3 percent in the prior month. In the same period last year, the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent.
Germany’s unemployment decreased at a slower pace in March, data released by the Federal Labor Agency showed Thursday.
The number of people out of work decreased 18,000 in March, following February’s 32,000 fall. Economists had forecast a monthly drop of 20,000. The jobless rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent in March, in line with expectations.
Elsewhere, data from Istat showed that Italy’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.5 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. The youth unemployment rate was 24.2 percent, down from 24.8 percent a month ago.