The possibility that the jobless rate might have peaked will bring no immediate relief for the 26.6 million people that Eurostat said remain unemployed in Europe. Still, coupled with some signs of life in the bloc’s economy, which broke out of recession in the second quarter, it at least offers some grounds for optimism.
“The data provided further tentative signs that labor market conditions are improving,” Ben May, an economist at Capital Economics in London, wrote in a note, pointing out that the labor force tends to follow changes in the economy with a slight delay.
Nonetheless, he said that because the overall picture was still consistent with pretty weak growth in the region as a whole, unemployment looks set to fall only very gradually at best.
Employers remain cautious about adding workers. Siemens, the German industrial company that competes with General Electric, said that it was cutting about 15,000 jobs across its global operations, including 5,000 in Germany, as it seeks to raise its profitability.
In the broader European Union, which has 28 countries, the jobless rate was 10.9 percent, as in July, Eurostat said.
The agency also revised down the previously reported July eurozone figure to 12 percent from 12.1 percent, and the overall European Union figure to 10.9 percent from 11 percent.
The figures contrast with the 7.3 percent unemployment rate in August in the United States and the 4.1 percent rate in Japan. The American figures for September are scheduled for release on Friday, but there was some question about whether the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be operating, with some workers furloughed by the government shutdown.
Among individual member-states, Greece remained the worst hit, with a depression-level 27.9 percent jobless rate in June, the latest month for which data is available. Spain had a 26.2-percent rate in August.
Austria again had the lowest unemployment, at 4.9 percent, while the rate in France, the second-largest eurozone member, was 11 percent.
The number of people out of work in Germany unexpectedly rose by 25,000 in September to just under three million.
Analysts had penciled in a fall of 5,000, following a rise of 9,000 in August.
The Federal Labor Office said there had been a cut in the number of government job schemes, BBC reported.
The rise in German joblessness pushed the unemployment rate in Europe’s biggest economy from 6.8 percent to 6.9 percent.
“The seasonal increase in September is due to labor market policies providing less relief,” said Heinrich Alt of the Labor Office.
Alt added that the department was changing to longer-term policies intended to train the unemployed.
Despite the rise, the unemployment rate is still close to its lowest level since reunification more than 20 years ago.
In August 2013, 5.499 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU28, of whom 3.457 million were in the euro area. Compared with August 2012, youth unemployment decreased by 123 000 in the EU28 and by 52 000 in the euro area.
In August 2013, the youth unemployment rate5 was 23.3 percent in the EU28 and 23.7 percent in the eurozone, compared with 23.1 percent and 23.4 percent respectively in August 2012, Europa.eu wrote.
In August 2013, the lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.7 percent) and Austria (8.6 percent), and the highest in Greece (61.5 percent in June 2013), Spain (56.0 percent) and Croatia (52.0 percent in the second quarter of 2013).
US Debt Crisis Triggered Shutdown
The US debt crisis has pushed lawmakers into a stalemate and resulted in the first government shutdown in 17 years. First global leader to react, British PM David Cameron, said other global economies suffer a similar infection.
The US Congress announced a partial shutdown, after Congress failed to agree on the spending bill for the next fiscal year, that starts on October 1. The key battle is over the cost of President Obama’s healthcare program dubbed Obamacare, RT reported.
The shutdown “is a reminder to all of us that we need to have properly planned public expenditure systems, properly planned tax, properly planned arrangements for getting our deficit down”, David Cameron said in an interview with Sky News.
Cameron’s comments came before he is due to deliver a key speech on the merits of his party’s drive to reduce the UK budget deficit. The political chaos in the US gives David Cameron an example of how his government policies have better controlled debt.
“Even if it’s a brief failure, it would forever be a signal to the market that you can’t trust the United States government to make its payment when it’s due,” said Millan Mulraine, the director of United States research and strategy at TD Securities. That would shake the foundations of the global financial system.
“Some people want to get away from the subject of deficit reduction and sorting our economy out and turning it around, but I think we will have lots of reminders over the coming months, like what’s happening in America, that it’s absolutely vital,” Cameron said to Sky News in an on-air interiview.
The US has amassed more than $11 trillion in debt in the last 9 years, bringing the grand total to $16.7 trillion, or $51,297 for each US citizen.
In 2012 the ratio of US debt to GDP stood at 100.8 percent. To compare, the UK public national debt stood at around 90 percent of its GDP last year.
In the neighboring EU, the total public debt of the 17-member eurozone was about 91 percent of GDP in 2012, and reached an all-time high of $11.4 trillion in July 2013.
Every year since 1982, under five different presidencies, the US has raised its national debt. President Obama and the Democrats hope to raise the debt ceiling by October 17 so that the US isn’t forced to default on its debt, which would be a historic first.
Congress’s failure to pass a bi-partisan budget will put as many as 800,000 US federal employees on hold, close down most national parks and museums, and limit other federal services.
The ripple effect from the shutdown isn’t just limited to individuals out of work or left without government services, but for the American economy as a whole.
The White House tweeted the government shutdown could cost the American economy $10 billion per week, a large sum given the fragile state of the economy, which is on the verge of a potential double-dip recession.
Citigroup analysts estimated last Friday a one-week shutdown could cost the US 0.1 percent of its national economy.
20% of HK Residents Live Below Poverty Line
Hong Kong, with its glittering skyscrapers and luxury malls, is home to some of the world’s richest people but new government figures show that a fifth of its population lives in poverty.
About 1.3 million people, or 19.6 percent, of the population were deemed to be living below the poverty line in 2012, according to the Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2012 released on the weekend.
It is the first time the city’s government has set a poverty threshold, which stands at 50 percent of median household income before tax or welfare benefits, CNN wrote.
“That poverty line marks an important milestone in our effort to alleviate poverty in Hong Kong,” Matthew Cheung, Hong Kong’s secretary for Labor and Welfare told CNN.
“We want to build a more caring, compassionate and inclusive society.”
Cheung said Hong Kong’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, would announce a package of measures early next year to help those struggling to make ends meet.
“We want to really tackle the problem of intergenerational poverty, social upward mobility is very important, promote employment and promote self-reliance,” said Cheung.
Leung, who took office in the former British colony last year, has pledged to narrow the city’s gap between rich and poor, which is at a record high.
Although part of China, Hong Kong has its own government and legal system.
The city’s Gini coefficient, which measures income equality, stood at 0.537 in 2011, the latest year that government figures are available, up from 0.533 in 2006.
WB Pledges More Funds For Poverty Reduction
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday pledged to increase funds for poor people in fragile and conflict-affected states, as part of a new strategy for the global development institution to end poverty.
In a speech at George Washington University, Kim said the fiscal uncertainty in the United States, combined with other sources of volatility in the global economy, could do great damage to emerging markets and developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that have lifted millions of people out of poverty in recent years, Xinhua reported.
With more than 1 billion people in the world living on less than 1.25 dollars per day, Kim said extreme poverty was the defining moral issue of our time.
Kim pledged that the World Bank would direct more funding to fragile and conflict-affected states. He said he hopes to increase the share of IDA core funding--the bank’s fund for the poorest--to fragile and conflict-affected states by about 50 percent in the next three years.
He also said the IFC, the bank’s private sector arm, also would increase funding by 50 percent over three years for low-income and fragile states.
Increasing commitment to fragile and conflict-affected states is part of a broad strategy the World Bank is adopting to help fight against poverty and boost shared prosperity. The Washington-based institution will use this strategy to realign the entire organization and identify its priorities. It would also require the bank to take more risks and commit more resources.
Exports of 5 Provinces Surveyed
Five Iranian provinces exported close to 474,000 tons of industrial and agricultural products in the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22).
Fars province exported 254,290 tons of commodities worth $89 million in the last six months.
Announcing this, Sakineh Sayahi, the head of Fars Customs Department, noted that the quantity and value of exports grew by 594 percent and 37 percent respectively compared with the corresponding figure of last year.
“Food products, tomato paste, vinegar and pickles, fresh and dried dates, cement, plastics, handmade carpets as well as tiles and ceramic accounted for a large portion of exports, dispatched to 24 countries, including Iraq, UAE, Afghanistan, Germany, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Lebanon and Vietnam,” she said.
Sayahi put the quantity and value of Fars imports at 26,000 tons and $142 million respectively.
She also announced that 149,000 Iranian passengers and close to 20,000 foreign tourists entered the province by air in the period.
The western province of Kurdestan exported about 123,000 tons of cement worth $10 million to Iraq in the last six months.
Mohammad Shahbazi, the head of Kurdestan Customs Department, added that the province exported over 240,000 tons of cement in the year to March 2013.
Kurdestan province is projected to export 300,000 tons of cement by the end of this year.
Isfahan province dispatched 63 tons of hand-woven carpets valued at $4.23 million to Canada, Japan and the Persian Gulf littoral states.
Asadollah Ahmadi Vanhari, the head of the province’s customs department, also said 480,000 carpet weavers produce over 700,000 square meters of carpets every year.
He put the quantity of carpet exports for the same period of last year at 68 tons.
Exports earned Hamedan province $18.047 million in the last six months.
Masoud Bokaei, the deputy head of Hamedan Industries, Mines and Trade Organization for foreign trade, added that about 11,478 tons of goods were dispatched to Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Belarus, UAE, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iran Keen on Advancing IGU Goals
Iran is a committed member of the International Gas Union (IGU) and always plays an important role to advance the goals of the union, said Managing Director of National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Hamid Reza Araqi.
Addressing the International Seminar of Working Committee 2 (WOC2) of IGU, Araqi said, “Our membership in the IGU is for more cooperation among NIGC and other companies and organizations active in the natural gas industry.”
The four-day Seminar on Underground Gas Storage, which is being held in Iran for the first time, opened on Tuesday, IRNA wrote.
Several important articles on various topics, including natural gas storage and optimization of gas production and injection, N2, structures of gas storage tanks, will be presented during the seminar.
“The existence of 34 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reservoirs in the Islamic Republic, beside other capabilities in the oil and gas industry, and continuous activities for more than a century has made NIGC one of the most reliable companies in the field of natural gas,” Araqi said.
Iran is able to produce over 400 cubic meters per day of natural gas from the giant South Pars Gas Field, adding that half of this amount can be assigned to exports.
“We have plans to export natural gas to neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iraq,” he said. “We are presently exporting our gas through pipelines to Turkey and Armenia.”
About 68 percent of global businessmen from all over the world expressed their willingness to raise their investment in the Asia-Pacific region next year.