BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone unemployment fell to a near-decade low in August, data showed on Monday, with a sharp decline in the month in Italy.
The European statistics office Eurostat said the jobless rate in the 19 countries sharing the euro slipped to 8.1 percent in August from 8.2 percent in July. Economists had an average expected an unchanged reading.
The rate was the lowest level since the 8.0 percent of November 2008. It has been steadily declining since a peak of s 12.1 percent in mid-2013.
The sharpest decline was in Italy, where the unemployment was 9.7 percent of the workforce in August, down from 10.2 percent in July.
The lowest rate was 3.4 percent in Germany, unchanged from July. The rate in France increased to 9.3 in August from 9.2 percent in July.
Overall, 13.22 million people were without a job in the euro zone, a decline of 102,000 from July.
In the whole of the European Union, 16.66 million people were unemployed, for an unchanged rate of 6.8 percent.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robin Emmott