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Recession in the eurozone forced a further 173,000 people out of work during October and pushed the unemployment rate to a record high of 11.7pc.

2:09PM GMT 30 Nov 2012

Almost 26m people across Europe are now out of work, according to the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat, with an 18.7m majority of those living in the eurozone.

The rate has been climbing steadily during the debt crisis. During September the eurozone unemployment rate was 0.1 percentage points lower at 11.6pc, while in the same period in 2011 it was 10.4pc.

The north-south divide in Europe also remains clear, as Austria has an unemployment rate of just 4.3pc, Germany 5.4pc and the Netherlands 5.5pc. Meanwhile, troubled Greece has a rapidly rising rate of 25.4pc and in Spain 26.2pc of people are out of work.

The worst victims of rising unemployment in the eurozone are those under 25. Youth unemployment across the single currency area has now reached 23.9pc, up from 21.1pc in the same month last year. Spain’s youth unemployment rate has soared to 56pc. Greece publishes data a month behind much of the rest of the eurozone, but figures from August show that 57pc of young people were out of work.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “This is extremely bad news – it is clear that the instability in the eurozone is not going away, which will impact negatively on the UK.

“Some will interpret this as a sign to panic and start a tide of spending funded by yet more debt, but that would be precisely the wrong thing to do. With trouble continuing on the continent, it is essential that the Chancellor sticks to his commitment to reduce Britain’s deficit. It’s George Osborne’s role to cut the deficit – it’s the incoming Governor of the Bank of England’s role to stimulate the economy.”

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