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Eurozone jobless rate hit 12-year low in February before containment measures

The jobless rate in the eurozone dropped to the lowest level since March 2008 in February, the month before containment measures to ward off the spread of the coronavirus outbreak took effect in Europe.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the eurozone slipped to 7.3% in February from 7.4% in the previous month and 7.8% in the year-ago period, Eurostat reported. The latest print is the lowest reading in the eurozone since March 2008.

The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for the unemployment rate to remain steady at 7.4%.

The number of people unemployed in the eurozone declined by 88,000 to 12.05 million in February.

"As weekly initial jobless claims in the US showed last week almost 3.3 million people filed for unemployment in a week the impact of the eurozone lockdown measures on unemployment are likely to be potentially severe," Bert Colijn, ING Research's senior economist for the eurozone, wrote in a research note.

However, features like automatic stabilizers and labor market regulation mean the eurozone job market is more rigid than that of the U.S., he said.