Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

November 17, 2013

What's holding the eurozone recovery back?

LONDON — The 17-country eurozone has just emerged from recession — yet already its recovery is faltering.

Official figures on Thursday showed the currency union’s economy grew just 0.1 percent in the July through September quarter compared with the previous three-month period.

The figure confirms the bloc faces a long and painful way back from its five-year financial crisis. Record-high unemployment is keeping consumer spending weak, a stronger euro is slowing exports and governments are still more focused on cutting debt than investing.

The chronic weakness of the world’s largest trading bloc is helping slow the global economy: Struggling Europeans, for example, are buying fewer goods from the United States and elsewhere.

At the same time, disparities divide the region. Germany continues to grow while France, historically the other half of the union’s “core”, saw its economy contract.

Here’s a look at the eurozone’s vital signs.

Labor

Record-high unemployment across the eurozone is one of the key reasons behind the muted recovery. At the end of September, the unemployment rate in the eurozone stood at a record 12.2 percent. Nearly 19.5 million people were out of work across the bloc, which has a population of around 330 million.

The overall figures hide huge differences across the region.

While unemployment in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is near record lows, it has jumped to massive levels in the countries struggling with high debt. The rates in Greece and Spain have spiked above 25 percent and are not forecast to drop significantly for years. The situation among the young is even worse — in Greece, a staggering 57.3 percent of those under 25 were out of work.

As well as creating uncertainty in households and stifling consumer spending, unemployment is a burden to a country’s coffers. Soaring youth unemployment also has the social cost of denying potential workers skills and experience — hurting the region’s economic potential in the long term and fueling social tensions.

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