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Eurozone unemployment hit a fresh record of 12.1 percent in March, with 19.2 million people on the dole as recession continued to sap Europe's economy.
The Eurostat data agency said an extra 62,000 people joined unemployment queues in just four weeks in the 17-nation eurozone as the jobless rate climbed for the 23rd consecutive month.
In the full 27-member EU, a total 26.5 million people were out of work last month, or 10.9 percent, as 69,000 extra workers went on the dole in March.
"Unemployment in Europe remains unacceptably high," said the EU's employment and social affairs commissioner Laszlo Andor of the dramatic year-on-year rise. A year earlier joblessness stood at 11.0 percent in the eurozone and 10.3 percent in the European Union.
In comparison unemployment in the United States was at 7.6 percent in March and 4.3 percent in Japan in February.
"The gap between the countries with the highest and lowest jobless rates remains extremely high," Andor said, calling for demand-side interventions such as a lower taxes, structural reforms and training.
Greece remained the hardest hit nation in March, with joblessness relentlessly soaring to hit 27.2 percent in January, the latest available figures, against 26.3 percent in December.
But Spain, the eurozone's fourth economy and the EU's fifth, was not far behind, with 26.7 percent out of work against 26.3 percent the previous month.
And France, another European powerhouse, in March also reeled in the face of record unemployment.
Cyprus, whose parliament Tuesday debates a tough 10-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout, saw a huge month-to-month rise to 14.2 percent against 10.7 percent in February.
Portugal, another bailed out nation, registered a sharp rise to 17.5 percent against 15.1 percent.
"The situation in the periphery remains particularly dire," said economist Jennifer McKeown of Capital Economics.
The lowest unemployment rates were in Austria, which saw a slight fall to 4.7 percent and in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, where it remained unchanged at 5.4 percent.
Across Europe, the greatest cause for concern lay with youth unemployment.
In March, 24 percent of under-25s were jobless in the eurozone, and 23.5 percent in the 27-nation EU against 22.5 percent and 22.6 percent a year earlier, respectively.
But in Greece youth unemployment soared to a whopping 59.1 percent in January, the latest available figure, and hit 55.9 percent in Spain, 38.4 percent in Italy and 38.3 percent in Portugal.
In all 5.69 million youths were out of work in the EU, 3.59 million of them in the eurozone.
"Youth unemployment has potentially disastrous consequences, especially if it prolongs, as young people can be cut off not only from the labour market but from society as a whole," Commissioner Andor added.
"EU institutions and governments, business and social partners at all levels need to do all they can to avoid a 'lost generation'".