Eurozone unemployment rate drops to near eight-year low

Two people look at job announcements in the window of an agency in Naples Image copyright Getty Images

The eurozone's unemployment rate has continued to fall, dropping to a near eight-year low in February.

Figures from the Eurostat agency showed the jobless rate fell from 9.6% in January to 9.5% - the lowest since May 2009.

The lowest unemployment rates were in the Czech Republic (3.4%) and Germany (3.9%), while the highest were in Greece (23.1%) and Spain (18%).

France, the second-biggest economy in the eurozone, was stuck at 10%.

At the height of the financial crisis, unemployment in the eurozone peaked at 12.1%.

Separate survey data suggested strong growth among eurozone manufacturers.

IHS Markit's final manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the eurozone rose to 56.2 in March, from 55.4 in February. Any reading above 50 shows growth.

However, Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said high demand was bringing problems.

"Eurozone manufacturing is clearly enjoying a sweet spell as we move into spring, but it is also suffering growing pains in the form of supply delays and rising costs," he said.

"The survey is also signalling the highest incidence of supplier delivery delays for nearly six years, underscoring how suppliers are struggling to meet surging demand."

On Friday, official figures showed inflation slowed by more than expected in March.

Prices in the eurozone were 1.5% higher than a year ago, down sharply on the 2% rate seen in February.

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