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tumb43BRUSSELS: The austerity policies adopted to remedy the debt crisis are taking an ever greater toll on jobs and households in some countries, with little hope of improvement in sight, the European Commission said Tuesday.

"The adverse effects of public budget cuts and tax increases on employment and living standards are increasingly apparent" in some member states, the Commission said in a report.

"The social crisis in Europe keeps worsening and in a number of member states there is no tangible improvement in sight," EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a statement.

The latest figures make for grim reading in the 27-member European Union, unemployment hit 10.8 percent in January, that is more than 26 million jobless, while the 17-nation eurozone saw a record 11.9 percent rate.

As governments tighten budgets to try and balance the public finances, the economy suffers with wages falling and social welfare cutbacks forcing households onto the defensive, thereby reducing demand further.

Youth unemployment is of particular concern, the report said, running at just under 24 percent in the EU, and led by Spain and Greece with unprecedented rates well above 50 percent.

"The share of the EU population reporting financial distress remains well above levels observed at any time in the previous decade, affecting almost one in four low-income households."

Welfare helped ease the initial impact of the crisis but from 2010 has proved less effective as governments have been forced into ever larger cutbacks due to a slowing economy that gives them little leeway, the report said.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

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