Demonstrators protest cuts in education in Barcelona, Spain, last month.… (Manu Fernandez / AP Photo )
The toll from the Eurozone debt crisis mounted in January.
The Eurozone's jobless rate climbed to a record 11.9%, from 11.8% in December, as the 17-member single-currency bloc continues to grapple with recession and the effects of stringent government cutbacks, according to figures reported Friday.
By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.9% in January, and its highest since the Great Depression was 10.8% during the 1982-83 recession. The Eurozone's population is about 317 million, similar to the U.S.
The U.S. jobless rate for February will be released March 8.
Within the Eurozone, jobless rates varied widely. Spain's rate ticked higher in January to 26.2%. Neighboring Portugal saw its jobless figure go up to 17.6%.
Joblessness in Italy, the Eurozone's third-largest economy, also moved higher, to 11.7% in January. And it edged up to 10.6% for France, the No. 2 economy.
On the other end of the spectrum, Germany, the region's largest economy, held its jobless rate at a comparatively comfortable 5.3%, even though its economic output declined in the fourth quarter.
Eurostat, the statistical agency for the European Union, said the jobless rate for the Eurozone's youth — 15- to 24-year-olds — rose to 24.2%.
"Most EU nations effectively have dual labor markets, with permanent jobs typically protected by unions and held by people older than 35 and temporary jobs that are unprotected and held by younger workers," Anna Zabrodzka, an economist at Moody's Analytics' office in Prague, Czech Republic, wrote in a research note Friday.
Analysts said the unemployment rate was likely to rise still higher as the recession drags on and the economic and political fallout from the fiscal crisis continues. Italy's recent inconclusive parliamentary elections, for example, have renewed concerns about that country's financial stability and its structural reforms.
"Rising unemployment, higher taxes, weakening wage growth and tightened credit are eating into household purchasing power and constraining household spending," Zabrodzka said. "The subdued global environment and fiscal austerity will affect economic activity in the Eurozone."