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Eurozone unemployed hit a record 18 million

BRUSSELS -- Jobless numbers across the eurozone hit a record 18 million in July, said grim new figures released Friday as recession looms across the debt-stricken 17-nation currency area.

The 18,002,000 headline jobless figure released by Eurostat was the highest since records began in 1995 — and left the European Commission fretting over potential unrest on the streets of Europe's capitals.

An additional 88,000 people joining the ranks of the unemployed throughout July, the European Union data agency said — well over 100 people per hour.

Upwardly revised June data meant that the unemployment rate monitored by statisticians was unchanged at 11.3 percent, but an estimated 25.254 million were listed as unemployed across the full EU, which also includes non-euro heavyweights Britain and Poland.

Coupled with annualized inflation rising to 2.6 percent in August according to a separate Eurostat release, the figures had analysts warning of ever-tighter household spending acting as a drag on governments' hopes of recovery.

Recalling an agreement by EU leaders at their last summit to create “more dynamic labor markets,” a Commission spokesman said the jobless numbers were now at a “critical” level and would pose a “serious threat to social cohesion” without concerted action.

Focused on the desperate youth unemployment particularly in Spain and Greece, the spokesman said governments had to do everything possible to avoid a “lost generation.”

The eurozone is faring far worse than its main international economic rivals. Japan's unemployment rate was flat at 4.3 percent in July even as the U.S. rate rose to 8.3 percent.

The news emerged as the International Labor Organization warned of a “catastrophic” rise in unemployment, especially among the young, if debt-wracked Greece were to leave the eurozone or if the bloc were to split.

Ekkehard Ernst, a senior economist at the U.N. body, told a German daily that close to one in 10 would be without a job even in powerhouse Germany by 2014 — nearly twice the current level.

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