Economy: Luxembourg had the third lowest unemployment rate in the EU, but above average inflation, according to two new reports released by the EU’s statistics agency this week.
Eurostat reported the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the 17 country euro zone was 10.7% in January 2012, up from ten percent the year before. In the wider 27 nation EU, unemployment was 10.1%, also up from ten percent in January 2011, the Luxembourg-based agency said on Thursday.
The lowest unemployment rates in January 2012 were seen in Austria (four percent), the Netherlands (five percent) and in the Grand Duchy. The Luxembourg figure was 5.1%, up from the 4.7% rate reported in January 2011.
The highest rates were in Spain (23.3%), Greece (19.9%, as of November 2011), and Ireland and Portugal (14.8%). Belgium’s 7.4% rate in January 2012 inched up from 7.3% the year before, while France’s rate rose to ten percent from 9.6%, and Germany’s fell to 5.8% from 6.5%.
Eurostat noted the January 2012 unemployment rate was 8.3% in the US, and Japan’s December 2011 rate was 4.6%.
In a separate report issued Wednesday, Eurostat said the annual inflation rate in January 2012 was 2.6% in the euro zone and 2.9% in the overall EU. Both rates were higher than the figures recorded in January 2011.
Sweden’s rate was the lowest in the EU, at 0.7%, while Hungary’s rate, at 5.6%, was the highest.
Among euro zone countries, the lowest inflation rate was Ireland’s 1.3%. Germany registered 2.3% inflation; France’s figure was slightly higher at 2.6%, while Belgium and Luxembourg saw a 3.2% rate, the fifth highest rate in the euro area. Estonia headed the list with 4.4% inflation.
The statistics agency said that in the euro area, the biggest price increases were seen in housing (4.5%), transport (4.4%), and alcohol and tobacco (3.8%), while the lowest price hikes occurred in communications (-2.4%), recreation and culture (0.7%), and clothing (0.9%).