Euro-zone Jobless Rate Falls to 7.6% in November

Unemployment in the 12 countries that use the euro to dipped to 7.6% in November, the European Union said Friday.

The rate stood at 7.7% in October.

The jobless rate has gradually declined over the past four months, reflecting economic growth across Europe. Euro-zone unemployment is now at its lowest level since the EU's statistical agency Eurostat started keeping records for the currency area in October 1998.

The overall unemployment rate in the 25 members of the EU also dropped slightly to 7.7% in November, down from 7.8% in October.

Europe's largest economy, Germany, reported a provisional figure of 8% in November, down from 8.1% a month earlier, and down sharply from the 9.3% rate it posted in Nov. 2005. France's jobless rate also remained above the euro-area average with 8.6%.

Eurostat estimates that 11.2 million men and women in the euro-zone were without jobs in November, and 16.9 million in the entire 25-nation bloc.

Europe's jobless rate remains higher than its global economic rivals, Eurostat said. The unemployment rate for the same month in the United States stood at 4.5% and at 4.0% in Japan.

The euro-zone expanded to 13 on Jan. 1 as Slovenia adopted the single currency. The ex-communist was not included in the Friday's study.