While hailing the stabilizing jobless rates in European Union and eurozone, a senior EU official called upon member states to step up "job effort" and take further decisive measures.
JOBLESS RATES STABLIZING
Unemployment rate of the euro area stood at 12.1 percent in July, the same as last month and also the highest level since such statistics started to publicize in 1995, EU statistics office said Friday.
In the wider 28-member EU, the overall unemployment rate in July was 11 percent, the same as the previous month, Eurostat figures showed.
Economic growth turned positive in the second quarter and "latest unemployment figures confirm that joblessness has stopped rising in many countries, even in Spain, Portugal and Ireland," EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said.
"After six quarters of recession and ten quarters of rising unemployment, this leveling off in unemployment is relatively good news," he added in a written statement after the release of the data.
In both zones, jobless rates have risen markedly compared with July 2012, when they were 11.5 percent in the eurozone and 10.5 percent in the EU respectively.
Among the member states, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria at 4.6 percent, Germany at 5.4 percent, and Luxembourg at 5.7 percent, according to Eurostat statistics.
The highest jobless rates were registered in Greece at 27.6 percent and Spain at 26.3 percent, said Eurostat.
The data showed that unemployment rates in some debt-ridden countries, such as Ireland, Italy and Portugal, had even slightly decreased.
"It is encouraging that many countries have managed to slightly reduce seasonally-adjusted unemployment without a time lag after economic growth picked up or even while still in recession," Andor said.
"The slight decline in unemployment in these countries shows the importance of active employment policy measures like hiring subsidies, reduced taxes on low-paid labor, re-skilling and good-quality job placement services," he added.
CHALLENGES STILL DAUNTING
The Commissioner, in the meantime, lamented the large number of jobless people in the two regions.
"Clearly it is unacceptable that more than 26.6 million jobseekers are still without a job in the EU (19.2 million in the eurozone), of which more than 5.5 million are aged under 25 (3.5 million in the eurozone)," Andor said.
He described the recent improvements in job figures as "minimal" and the employment situation "still very fragile."
"This is no time for celebration or complacency. On the contrary, now that we can see we are on the right employment policy track we must step up our 'jobs effort'," he added.
In particular, youth unemployment remains a challenging problem for the EU. In July, 5.56 million young persons under the age of 25 were unemployed in the EU, of whom 3.5 million were in the euro area.
In July, the youth unemployment rate was 23.4 percent in the EU and 24 percent in the euro area, higher than 22.9 percent and 23.3 percent respectively in July 2012, with the highest being recorded in Greece at 62.9 percent and Spain at 56.1 percent, the Eurostat figures showed.
The Commissioner urged EU member states to take "further decisive steps" to lift the economy out of mire, including "rapidly implementing the banking union, strengthening the social dimension of the economic and monetary union, and making greater progress towards political and fiscal union."
He also urged member states to step up "investment in skills" to give everyone the chance to earn a decent living through their work.
Member states governments must "proceed full-steam ahead to put in place Youth Guarantee schemes, notably with the help of the European Social Fund, topped up by the Youth Employment Initiative, to ensure that everyone under 25 gets a good offer of work, training or education within four months of leaving school or losing their job."
"We must reach those hardest-to-help. This is important not only for social cohesion, business confidence and political stability in the short run, but also for the long-term growth potential of the EU economy," he added. E