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Eurozone unemployment remains high

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File - In this Dec. 2, 2010 file photo, people queue outside an unemployment registry office in Madrid.

File - In this Dec. 2, 2010 file photo, people queue outside an unemployment registry office in Madrid.

Victor R. Caivano, File, Associated Press

Each month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone is published by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office. For the month of April 2014, unemployment across the eurozone was reported to be 11.7 percent compared with 12 percent for April of last year.

For these unemployment measurement purposes, the eurozone is considered to be a specific group of 18 countries. The two countries included in this survey with the lowest unemployment rates are Austria and Germany with reported figures of 4.9 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

At the other end of the unemployment spectrum is Spain with an April 2014 unemployment rate of 25.1 percent.

The greatest increases in the reported unemployment rates, on a year-to-year basis, were reported in the Netherlands and Cyprus. The unemployment rate increased during the year from 6.5 percent to 7.2 percent in the Netherlands. In Cyprus, the rate increased from 15.6 percent to 16.4 percent over the same period.

As compared to April 2013, the unemployment rate in April 2014 decreased the most in Hungary, Portugal and Ireland. For example, the unemployment rate reported by Eurostat for Ireland decreased over the past year from 13.7 percent to 11.9 percent.

For the purposes of these unemployment measures, Eurostat defines unemployed persons as those who are between 15 and 74 years old currently without work, willing to start a job within two weeks and who have actively sought employment at some point over the past four weeks.

As a point of reference, unemployment in the U.S. for April 2014 was reported to be 6.3 percent. April’s level was an improvement from the unemployment level reported for March of 6.7 percent.

Decreasing unemployment is certainly a benefit for those returning to the workforce. Although when the supply of available labor becomes increasingly scarce, the cost of filling open positions is frequently pushed higher as workers have more potential employment options from which to choose.

Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group, which is based in Salt Lake City.