The rate of unemployment is an important leading indicator for chemical industry demand. It measures the number of people who currently don't have much spare cash to spend on discretionary purchases. And when the jobless rate is rising, it also impacts the spending patterns of those still in work, as they often choose to save any spare cash 'for a rainy day'.
February's rise in Eurozone unemployment to 10% represents the highest rate since 1998, with 15.7m people now out of work. In the whole EU area, 23m people are now unemployed. Equally worrying is the fact that unemployment increased in all 27 member states.
Latvia, in the Baltics, has 21.7% out of work, Spain has 19% unemployed. And 20.6% of all under-25s are now out of work in the whole EU. The blog fears that these depressing numbers will rise further in 2010, as stimulus programmes end, and governments are forced by rising debt levels to reduce the public sector workforce.