Unemployment in the European Union hit 26 million in November, as the continent's jobless rate increase by almost a full percentage point over the previous year to 10.7.

The European statistics agency Eurostat published new data Tuesday showing the scale of the daunting task facing European policymakers.

The jobless rate among the 17 countries that use the euro rose to 11.8 per cent, as the number of jobless people in the region rose to 18.8 million. That's the highest figure since the single currency was founded in 1999.

Unemployment is becoming chronic in certain parts of Europe, posing problems for governments, which must ensure employed, tax-paying citizens are willing to adhere to tough austerity measures. Governments will also need to slash services, which is likely to isolate jobless people even further on the fringes.

The biggest jump in the jobless rate happened in Greece, where it soared to 26 per cent, more than seven per cent above the level a year earlier.

But Europe's highest overall unemployment rate belongs to Spain, with 26.6 per cent of the official workforce listed as jobless. That's an increase of 3.6 percentage points over last year's level.

On the other end of the spectrum, Austria has the lowest rate in the EU, at 4.5 per cent. Luxembourg's unemployment rate is 5.1 per cent and Germany's is 5.4 per cent.

Britain and France, two of Europe's largest economies, which will be leaned upon to improve the continent's fortunes as a whole, now have jobless rates of 7.8 and 10.5 per cent, respectively.