Compared with March, the number of jobless climbed by 396,000, up to 14.5 million. In March 2009, the unemployment rate in all the 16 states in the euro area stood at 8.9%.

In European Union, the unemployment rate was 8.6% in April, the highest level since January 2006.

Spain’s minister of labor said in an official statement earlier today that the number of applications for unemployment benefits had dropped in May for the first time in 14 months, after the government’s temporary jobs program and seasonal hiring have tamed the European Union’s fastest unemployment rate.

The number of jobless in Spain dropped by 24,271 in May, as an 8-bln euro government plan has created thousands of short-term jobs in construction, the data made public on Tuesday by the labor minister showed.