The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said the number of people without jobs rose by 102,000 in November to 15.712 million, or 10% of the workforce in the 16 countries using the euro - the highest since August 1998.
"We think that the unemployment rate will continue to rise until around the third quarter of this year before remaining at these higher levels through 2011," said Nick Kounis, economist at Fortis Bank.
"The upshot is that consumer spending will remain weak for a protracted period and that the overall economic recovery will be slow," he said.
The European Union's statistics agency confirmed its earlier estimate that the euro zone exited recession in the third quarter with 0.4% quarter-on-quarter growth after five quarters of falling output.
Recovery 'could lose momentum'
But the contributions of individual components of gross domestic product changed from those previously reported.
The rebuilding of inventories, severely depleted in early 2009, was stronger than thought and added 0.5 percentage points to the overall result rather than 0.3 percentage points.
Net trade added less than previously estimated - 0.1 percentage points, rather than 0.2 percentage points.
Investment, which accounts for almost one fifth of the euro zone's gross domestic product, turned out weaker than expected and subtracted 0.2 percentage points rather than the previously reported -0.1 points.
Finally household demand, which at 57% of the total is the biggest item in eurozone GDP, subtracted 0.1 percentage points from the final quarter-on-quarter figure although it was offset by government spending, which added 0.1 point.
"We suspect that the euro zone's recovery could well lose momentum for a time in 2010 before growth starts to gradually pick up again," said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.
This will happen because governments will gradually withdraw some of their stimulus steps including car scrappage schemes and employment support measures, Archer said.
"In addition, inventory developments could start to become less positive towards the middle of the year while the strong euro, high and still rising unemployment, and persistent tight credit conditions amid still significant financial sector problems are also seen as weighing down on euro zone growth prospects," he said.
"In addition, there is a danger that global growth could also falter for a time during 2010, thereby limiting eurozone exports.
Eurostat also revised upwards the year-on-year GDP figure for the third quarter to a contraction of 4.0% from 4.1% and revised higher the quarter-on-quarter number for the second quarter to a contraction of 0.1% from 0.2.
Earlier this monthy, Herman Van Rompuy, the European Union's first full-time president, called a special summit on 11 February to seek a way out of the crisis and start mapping the EU's economic and social agenda for the next decade.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)