Eurozone unemployment at lowest since August 2011

Brussels - Eurozone unemployment fell to its lowest level in four-and-a-half years in January, official data showed Tuesday, beating forecasts from analysts worried about the effects of a faltering global economy.

The Eurostat statistics agency said unemployment in the 19-nation eurozone dropped to 10.3 percent in January from 10.4 percent in December, its lowest rate since August 2011.

Analysts had expected the January figure to be unchanged at 10.4 percent, taking into account the sharp slowdown in China and turbulence on the global financial markets.

By headcount, there were some 16.65 million jobless in the eurozone in January, down a solid 105,000 from December and 1.4 million less compared with January 2015.

As usual, the level of unemployment diverged widely across the eurozone.

Greece and Spain continued to have the highest jobless rates, at 24.6 percent and 20.5 percent, while economic powerhouse Germany was on 4.3 percent.

This compared with 10.2 percent in France where the government is at pains to introduce fiercely contested labour reforms.

Unemployment across the 28-country EU also dropped, falling to 8.9 percent in January from 9.0 percent in December and compared to 9.8 percent in January 2015.

Youth unemployment in the eurozone also fell to 22 percent from 22.8 percent the year before.

This figure stood at 48 percent in Greece and at 45 percent in Spain. Italy, the third biggest economy in the eurozone, was at 39.3 percent in the period.