Eurozone unemployment hit a fresh high in April for the 24th month, deepening the plight of the jobless young and raising analyst calls for a cut in interest rates.
The latest picture from the Eurostat data agency offered little hope of a quick exit from recession for Europe's "lost generation" of under-25s.
As the economy struggled and 95,000 more people joined dole queues between March and April across the 17-nation eurozone, the unemployment rate edged up to a record 12.2 percent, or 19.3 million people, the Eurostat data agency said.
The data brought more bad news for young people who overall are especially hard-hit by the sluggish economy, nearly three times more likely than older people to be unemployed.
"Even if the eurozone economy exits from recession later this year, the labour market is likely to remain in recession until next year," said ING bank analyst Martin Van Vliet.
Inflation rose to 1.4 percent in May from 1.2 percent in April, the first time in months that the reading has increased, but still well below the European Central Bank's target of just below 2.0 percent, triggering fresh calls for the ECB to cut its rates to revive growth.
"There remains a compelling case for monetary easing," said Van Vliet.
"The ECB needs to do more," agreed James Howat at Capital Economics. But "we do not expect any significant announcements at the Bank's meeting next week."
The eurozone is in its longest recession ever and concern is mounting over the growing numbers of jobless youth amid fears they will never get on the careers ladder.
In the 12 months to April, almost 200,000 young people joined dole queues in the eurozone and 100,000 in the full 27-nation European Union.
Total youth unemployment was at 5.6 million (23.5 percent) in the full EU and 3.6 million (24.4 percent) in the eurozone.
But in Greece in April two out of three youngsters were without jobs, one out of two in Spain and two out of five in Italy and Portugal.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy last week urged EU leaders to come up with a plan at a summit next month to address "one of the most pressing issues in most, if not all, of our member states."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called a meeting in Berlin on July 3 with labour ministers from all member states on youth unemployment and this week France and Germany unveiled a plan to combat joblessness among the young.
Friday's Eurostat data showed 26.6 million people out of work in the full EU in April, stable against the previous month at 11 percent.
But the figures highlight a big year-on-year rise, with unemployment at 11.2 percent in the eurozone in the same month in 2012 and 10.3 percent in the European Union.
Greece remained the hardest hit nation in April, with a jobless rate climbing relentlessly to hit 27 percent in February, the latest available figures, against 21.9 percent a year earlier.
Spain, the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy and the EU's fifth, was not far behind, with 26.8 percent out of work against 26.7 percent the previous month and 24.4 percent a year earlier.