Already in recession, the 19 member states comprising the eurozone saw their combined unemployment rate rise to 7.9% in July from a revised 7.7% in June. The 7.9% figure is the highest jobless rate in the eurozone since February 2019.

The increase in the unemployment rate came about despite the easing of some social distancing measures meant to combat the spread of COVID-19 among eurozone members, as well as member states of the European Union (EU).

Some 15.18 million men and women in the EU were unemployed in July, according to data from Eurostat, or the Statistical office of the EU. Of this total, 12.79 million were in the eurozone.

Compared with June, the number of unemployed in July increased by 336,000 in the EU and 344,000 in the eurozone. Eurostat defines unemployed people as those without a job that have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and can start working within the next two weeks.

In July, the youth unemployment rate measuring job seekers ages 15 to 24 stood at 17.0% in the EU and 17.3% in the eurozone, up from 16.9% and 17.2%, respectively, compared with June. Compared with June 2020, youth unemployment rose by 37,000 in the EU and 29,000 in the eurozone.

In the second quarter, the eurozone was hit by its worst drop in employment ever recorded. The jobless rate stood at 7.8 % in June from an upwardly revised 7.7% in May.

In June, the number of unemployed persons in the eurozone rose by 203,000 to 12.69 million with several member states still saddled by COVID-19 social restrictions. The highest jobless rates were in Spain (15.6%), Italy (8.8%), and France (7.7%). Germany had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.8%.

The youth unemployment rate jumped to 17% from 16.5% in May. The jobless rate for the entire EU was 7.1% in June, up from 7% in May.

The eurozone saw its combined gross national products (GDP) contract by a historically low 12.1% during the second quarter of this year compared to the first.

The unprecedented growth contraction due to the severe economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic is the lowest since records began being kept in 1995. The eurozone reported a fall of 3.6% in GDP during Q1 versus Q4 2019.