UNEMPLOYMENT: EU SEPTEMBER JOBLESS RATE STICKS AT 8%.

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The average unemployment rate in the 15-nation EU was 8% in September 2003, unchanged from August, according to figures released from Eurostat, the EU's Statistical Office, on November 5. However, the rate is slightly up on the same time last year, when it was 7.8%. In the Euro-zone, unemployment stood at 8.8% in September 2003, unchanged compared to August. Euro-zone unemployment was 8.5% in September 2002.

In September 2003, the lowest rates were registered in Luxembourg (3.8%), the Netherlands (4.2% in August), Austria (4.5%) and Ireland (4.7%). The EU's highest rate continued to be in Spain, which has 11.2% unemployment. Ten of the 12 Member States which submitted data for the last two months recorded an increase in their unemployment rate since the same time last year. The Netherlands (2.8% in August 2002 to 4.2% in August 2003), Portugal (5.4% to 7.4%) and Luxembourg (2.9% to 3.8%), recorded the most important relative increases. Spain's rate fell from 11.5% to 11.2% and Finland's from 9.1% to 8.9%.

Between September...

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