The share of people out of work in the single currency bloc has fallen to 10.3 per cent from 11.2 per cent over the last year, but the rate of change disappointed in a number of Eurozone countries.
Eurozone citizens are still twice as likely to be out of work as in those in the UK where the unemployment rate is running at 5.1 per cent. Across Europe, four of the six nations with the lowest unemployment have their own currency - the Czech Republic, Britain, Denmark and Hungary.
Germany boasted the lowest rate across the single currency area, at 4.3 per cent in February, down from 4.8 per cent last year. Though stuttering progress on bringing unemployment down from double digits in the Eurozone’s next largest countries, France, Italy and Spain, brought into question the strength of the continent’s jobs recovery.
In France, the unemployment rate remained unmoved between January and February at 10.2 per cent. More than one in five people are still out of work in Spain, while in Italy, unemployment actually ticked up from 11.6 to 11.7 per cent over the month.
“Looking ahead, survey evidence suggests that the Eurozone’s labour market recovery is beginning to slow,” cautioned Jennifer McKeown, senior economist at Capital Economics.
The figures “stoke concern that recent slower Eurozone GDP growth and softer business confidence could now be increasingly weighing down on the labour market”, said Howard Archer of Global Insight.
Economists also said that slowing job creation would lead to weaker pay rises for those in work which could mean consumer demand does not pick up fast enough to boost inflation, currently minus 0.1 per cent, across Europe.