The unemployment rate of 7.8 is the lowest rate recorded in the 19-country euro area since October 2008 (Jacques DEMARTHON)

Brussels (AFP) – Eurozone annual inflation rose to 1.5 percent in February, up from 1.4 percent in January, while unemployment in the single currency area remained stable at 7.8 percent, Eurostat said Friday.

The provisional inflation figure is in line with expectations from analysts surveyed by Factset, but the January unemployment figure is better than the consensus forecast of 7.9 percent.

The unemployment rate of 7.8 percent in January and December is the lowest rate recorded in the 19-country euro area since October 2008.

The 28-nation European Union meanwhile registered an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent in January, down from 6.6 percent in December 2018 and from 7.2 percent in January 2018.

In a country breakdown for unemployment, the Czech Republic recorded the lowest rate at 2.1 percent in January this year, followed by Germany at 3.2 percent.

Spain recorded the highest jobless rate in January at 14.1 percent, with Italy at 10.5 percent. Greece registered the highest jobless rate at 18.5 percent in November, the last available figure.

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in all member countries except Denmark and Malta, where it remained stable.

On inflation, Eurostat said energy is due to have the highest annual rate in February at 3.5 percent, compared with 2.7 percent in January.

It is followed by food, alcohol and tobacco at 2.4 percent, compared with 1.8 percent in January.

It said services come in at 1.3 percent, compared with 1.6 percent in January, while non-energy industrial goods stand at 0.3 percent, stable compared with January.

The annual inflation rate is still far from the target set by the European Central Bank, which sees a rate of just below two percent over the year as a sign of good economic health.

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