New reports out of the U.S. and Europe Wednesday show a stark divergence between unemployment trends in America and the euro zone.
Unemployment in the the 17-member euro zone region was stuck at 12.1% in November, according to the latest Eurostat figures -- it hasn't budged from this level since April.
Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment has been slowly and steadily declining, with unemployment at 7% in the same month.
On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP reported the U.S. added 238,000 private-sector jobs in December, a significant jump that points to continued improvement in the nation's job market.
In Italy, the latest unemployment rate of 12.7% is the highest since record-keeping began in 1977.
But there's growing hope in other European countries that the worst is behind them.
Ireland recently emerged from its bailout program, providing a rare piece of good news for European policymakers.
In the U.K., unemployment is declining and the economy has been rebounding. After teetering on the brink of a triple-dip recession earlier in 2013, a surge in consumer spending and rising house prices led to a dramatic turnaround.