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The unemployment rate of 10 percent in the Euro area, which comprises sixteen member states including Ireland, for December 2010, has remained unchanged since November 2010.  The figure, released by ‘Eurostat’ the statistical office of the European Union, display that there has been little change between 2010 and 2009 when the rate was at 9.9 percent in December 2009.   Figures for the 27 EU member states (EU-27) show a similar unchanging pattern with the unemployment rate at 9.5 percent in December 2009 and 9.6 percent for the same month in 2010.  ‘Eurostat’ bases its estimations on the definition recommended by the International Labour Organisation that states an unemployed person is someone; who is without work, is available to start work within the next two weeks and someone who has actively sought employment at some time during the previous four weeks.

According to the data, 23.179 million people within the EU-27, of which 15.775 million were within the Euro area, were unemployed in December 2010. These figures fell by 19,000 in the EU-27 and by 73,000 in the Euro area in comparison with November 2010. However, the figures showed an increase in 2010 of 434,000 in the EU-27 and by 178,000 in the Euro area compared with the same period in 2009.

Other data by ‘Eurostat’ shows that the Netherlands with 4.3 percent, Luxembourg with 4.9 percent and Austria with 5 percent unemployment were the countries that experienced the lowest unemployment rates. The unemployment figures for Spain (20.2 percent), Lithuania and Latvia, (both 18.3 percent) posit them at the higher end of the spectrum for unemployment.

Decreases in unemployment levels were observed in Malta, Sweden, Germany and Finland while the highest increases were in Lithuania, Greece, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

Furthermore, between December 2009 and December 2010, unemployment for males rose from 9.8 percent to 9.9 percent in the Euro area remained at 9.6 percent in the EU27 and for females by 10 percent to 10.1 percent in the euro area and from 9.3 percent to 9.6 percent in the EU27. 

Youth unemployment stood at 20.4 percent in the Euro area in December 2010 and 21 percent in the EU27.  Little change is noticeable with 2009 when in the Euro area the figure was 20.1 percent and 20.5 percent in the EU27.

Unemployment figures for Ireland indicate that 29.1 percent of young people aged under 25 years old are unemployed compared to the average across all age brackets of 13.8 percent.