Here’s another milestone on Europe’s long road to recovery.
Unemployment in the eurozone should fall back below 10% next year for the first time since 2009, the European Commission said in its latest economic forecast.
The number of people out of work in the 19 countries that use the euro has fallen by 2.9 million since April 2013, when unemployment peaked above 12%.
Countries hardest hit by Europe’s debt crisis are now driving the turnaround, with unemployment falling fast in Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus. All these countries were forced to adopt tough economic reforms in return for international bailouts of their banks or government budgets.
“The unemployment rate is declining, and this is positive. Some labor market reforms are probably starting to bear fruit,” said Clemente Del Lucia, senior economist at BNP Paribas.
Greece — which was granted a third bailout last summer — is the notable outlier. Unemployment is forecast at 24.7% this year, and 23.6% in 2017.
The eurozone economy added more than 2.6 million jobs between April 2013 and the end of last year, but about 16.4 million people are still looking for work.