The employment rate in the 16-nation euro area fell 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 as recession tightened its grip on the region's economies.
In the first three months of this year, the rate of employment in the European Union region, having 27 countries, too fell 0.8 per cent.
Eurostat, the statistical agency for the European Communities, said the number of people employed in the euro zone -- the grouping of 16 nations that share the common currency euro -- fell 0.8 per cent (12,20,000 persons) as compared to the previous quarter.
"In the same period (first quarter), the number of persons employed in the European Union also decreased by 0.8 per cent (19,16,000 persons).
"In the fourth quarter of 2008, employment declined by 0.4 per cent in the euro area and by 0.3 per cent in the European Union," Eurostat said in a statement on Monday.
The raging financial turmoil has nearly wrecked the European economies, resulting in steep GDP contractions and huge job losses.
According to Eurostat, 223.8 million men and women were employed in the European Union region in the first quarter. Out of them, 146.2 million were in the euro area.
In April, the jobless rate in the euro area touched a 10-year high of 9.2 per cent. The unemployment rate rose from 8.9 per cent in March.
"The European Union unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent in April 2009, compared with 8.4 per cent in March 3. For the euro area this is the highest rate since September 1999, and for the EU27 since January 2006," Eurostat said earlier this month.
Developed nations like the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan [ Images ], have already witnessed thousands of job losses and the numbers are likely to rise in the coming months.
The jobless rate in the world's largest economy, US, crossed 9 per cent in May.