Eurozone unemployment falls to 8.8% as recovery gains pace

Brussels - Europe's economic recovery is gathering steam, with eurozone unemployment falling to its lowest level since January 2009 and inflation picking up, official figures have showed

The EU's official statistics agency announced on Thursday that the jobless rate in the single currency area fell to 8.8 percent in October, with inflation rising to 1.5 percent.

The positive data come after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced it was starting to wind down the massive support it has given the 19-member currency zone to help it through the crises of recent years.

Seasonally-adjusted unemployment in the eurozone was down from 8.9 percent in September, while the figure for the EU as a whole was 7.5 percent -- the lowest since November 2008, Eurostat said.

Eurozone inflation is still low -- ticking up to 1.5 in November compared with the ECB's target of just under 2.0 percent -- and ECB bank chief Mario Draghi has reassured investors the era of ECB stimulus is not yet over.

It was slightly lower than analyst expectations of 1.6 percent for the period.

The ECB has taken extraordinary measures to push up growth and inflation in the eurozone in recent years, setting interest rates at historic lows, offering cheap loans for banks and buying up billions of euros of government and corporate bonds each month.

But as the eurozone economy has picked up, calls have grown for the ECB to begin unwinding its ultra-loose monetary policies, as the Federal Reserve is doing in the United States.

The Frankfurt-based bank edged in that direction last month, announcing it would halve its monthly asset purchases to 30 billion euros from January.

[h5p id="8"]