In June 2012, an estimated 25.1 million men and women were unemployed in the EU, according to official figures released by Eurostat, the Luxembourg-based statistical office of the European Union. A whopping 17.8 million of the total unemployed are in the eurozone, the highest level since the 17-nation group was formed in 1999.
"Poverty is returning to Europe," Jan Zijderveld, the head of Unilever's European business, said in a Monday interview with the Financial Times Deutschland.
The past year saw several tragic manifestations of the emotional impact of the debt crisis. In April, a 77-year-old Greek man committed suicide in a crowded square, reportedly due to economic hardship. The tragedy was not an isolated incident; the European media is awash with reports of “economic suicides” following a slew of suicide notes blaming financial hardship.
“Unemployed” is defined by the U.N. International Labour Organization (ILO) as “someone aged 15 to 74 without work during the reference week who is available to start work within the next two weeks and who has actively sought employment at some time during the last four weeks.”
Which European countries have the highest unemployment rates? Data from the CIA’s World Factbook paints a grim picture. Check out Europe’s top-ten most unemployed countries below:
#10. Ireland (14.4%)
Shoppers pass by the many discount shops of North Earl Street in Dublin, on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Ireland's economy has suffered four straight years of falling property prices and consumer spending in the face of rising taxes, unemployment and emigration.
#9. Lithuania (15.4%)
Lithuanians protest during an anti-government rally at the Parliament palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. Lithuanians are increasingly upset about rising unemployment and unpopular reforms.
#8. Latvia (15.4%)
With Latvian flags and flowers, people march in a procession to the Freedom Monument to honor soldiers who fought in a Waffen SS unit during World War II, in Riga, Latvia, on Tuesday, March 16, 2012.
#7. Georgia (16.3%)
Georgian opposition supporters with Georgian and EU flags rally in the main street in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, on Sunday, May 27, 2012.
#6. Greece (17.3%)
A woman collects goods from a garbage bin outside a supermarket in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Tuesday, July 3, 2012.
#5. Croatia (17.7%)
A protester holds a Croatian flag during an anti-EU rally in Zagreb, Croatia, on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, after Croatia signed a treaty to join the European Union in 2013.
#4. Spain (21.7%)
A queue of people wait to enter an unemployment office in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.
#3. Serbia (23.4%)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, a young child walks in a corridor at an asylum center in Banja Koviljaca, Serbia. Serbia, still scarred from the Balkan wars, is battling with widespread poverty and unemployment.
#2. Bosnia (45.3%)
Belma Avdic, 8, leans on the door as her mother Amela Avdic, center, hugs her sister Belma Avdic, 4, inside their old family house near the Bosnian town of Kalesija, on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Belma Avdic's father and mother are both unemployed and the family lives in poverty in a small house without money to buy wood or coal for heating.
#1. Kosovo (45.3%)
This Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, photo shows pedestrians walking across the Ottoman era cobble stone bridge over the almost dried out Bistrica river in western Kosovo town of Prizren.