Summary: Euro area unemployment rose to an all-time high of 12.2% in April

What the chart shows: The chart shows unemployment as a percentage of the labour force in the 17 countries sharing the single currency

Why is the chart important: Unemployment is a lagging, not a leading indicator. This means that it is an effect, not a cause of economic developments. However, it is an important indicator that highlights the amount of spare capacity – slack – in an economy. Rising unemployment is also an indicator of below-par growth. The concern in the euro area is that the continued absence of growth and hence continued rising unemployment will exacerbate social tensions. The euro, allegedly an instrument for greater unity in Europe, is instead forcing the continent apart.