People lined up outside an employment office in Madrid. Spain, one of the countries hit hardest by the euro zone debt crisis, returned to growth in the third quarter of 2013 (AP). The number of people out of work in the euro zone rose slightly in September, according to official data published Thursday, showing that signs of renewed economic growth have not yet filtered through to the labor market, newtime.com reports.
The jobless rate itself was 12.2 percent last month, a record high and the same as the figure for August, which was revised upward. But the absolute number of jobless people in the 17 countries in the euro area rose by 60,000 from a total of about 19.5 million, according to Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency.
Eurostat revised the figure reported for August to 12.2 percent from 12 percent.
The numbers may come as a disappointment after recent data fed hopes that the euro zone was slowly emerging from a downturn that effectively began in 2009. Spain, one of the countries hit hardest by the euro zone debt crisis, returned to growth in the third quarter after a recession that lasted more than two years.
There also have been signs that the European car industry, a major source of jobs, is recovering from its worst sales in two decades. On Wednesday, the Italian carmaker Fiat reported its first increase in European sales since 2010.
The euro zone as a whole emerged from recession in the second quarter, but the rebound was weak and output in the region was still lower than it was in 2008. Economists have been watching for any signs that the economic upswing has staying power.
The euro zone unemployment rate had stopped rising in recent months, but there had been no sign of a decrease from 12 percent, or 19.2 million people.
Employment is typically one of the last components of the economy to respond in an upturn, because companies tend to wait to hire people until they are sure business is really getting better. That is especially true in Europe, where regulations make it difficult to fire workers once they are no longer needed.