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Eurozone unemployment ends 2011 at 10.4 percent, the highest since euro was launched in 1999
BRUSSELS (AP) ' Unemployment in the 17-nation eurozone ended 2011 at 10.4 percent, a new record high for the single currency since its launch at the start of 1999, official figures showed Tuesday.
Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said the rate in December was unchanged, as November's was revised upwards from a previous estimate of 10.3 percent.
Unemployment has been steadily rising over the past year ' in December 2010, it stood at 9.5 percent ' largely becaues of Europe's debt crisis.
The biggest increases over 2011 were recorded in Greece, Cyprus and Spain. All three, to various degrees, have had to impose tough austerity measures ' such as public sector layoffs and spending cuts ' in an effort to regain investor confidence lost during the crisis.
The agency said just under 16.5 million people were unemployed in the eurozone, up 751,000 on the year before.
The highest unemployment rate remains in Spain, where 22.9 percent of the working population were without work, though Greece is nearing with 19.2 percent rate. The lowest rate in the eurozone is Austria's 4.1 percent.