One tenth here, one tenth there. Or as the Italians would say, piano piano si va lontano — going far by going slowly.
That’s how the market is feeling towards the new eurozone unemployment rate to come out this Thursday. The expectation is for a very small drop of point one tenth of a percent, if that much, in the jobs numbers: from 11.3 percent in February to 11.2 percent in March, according to economists polled by Bloomberg. The unemployment rate in the U.S for the same period was 5.5 percent.
Low oil prices, weaker euro and the European Central Bank’s aggressive monetary police all benefitted the continent’s economy. “Growth has picked up in the first quarter,” said Johannes Gareis, economist at Natixis. “The effect is already felt in retail sales, for instance. The recovery is continuous and the unemployment is likely to fall further”.
National numbers are also encouraging, albeit the increments are also in the decimal points. In March, the unemployment rate fell one tenth of a percent in Germany (6.4% versus 6.5% prior, one of the lowest numbers ever for the country), Ireland, Netherlands, and Slovakia. Spain, one of the main drivers of the high unemployment rate in the continent, has had better news: the number of jobseekers fell sharply in March.
“I’m betting on a decline mainly because of strong regional figures,” said Christophe Barraud, chief economist strategist of Market Securities in Paris.
But the european economy won’t be able to rebound based only in the weaker euro/low oil prices combo. Silvio Peruzzo, an economist with Nomura, agrees that the unemployment numbers should see a small decrease, driven mainly by Germany and Spain, but cautions: “These are shocks which are temporary by definition. We cannot bet on weaker euro or oil prices to generate a sustained recovery,” he explained in a phone call from London.
“It is a more one off thing than a permanent boost in the eurozone”.
Other analysts are not so optimistic and think Europe has a long way to go out of economic stagnation. Cristoph Weir, senior economist of economic research of Commerzbank in Frankfurt, is betting that March will see no improvement in the unemployment numbers and the rate will continue at 11.3 percent, disregarding the national unemployment figures and the weaker euro effect.
It is not so much as baby steps as the eurozone economy moving in slow motion pace.
“The recovery has been too slow,” he said. Weir expects the unemployment to be very high to the next two or three years and to come down very slowly. “We are not very optimistic about the growth of the eurozone”.