BRUSSELS (AFP) - Unemployment in the 16 countries using the euro rose in March to 8.9 percent to hit the highest level in over three years as the recession took hold, according to official EU data on Thursday. The unemployment rate hit the highest level since Nov 2005 in March as an estimated 419,000 jobs were shed across the single currency bloc, the European Unions Eurostat data agency said. The eurozone joblessness rate stood at 8.7 percent in February 2009 and 7.2pc in March 2008. For the 27-nation EU as a whole the unemployment rate was 8.3 pc in March, up from 8.1pc in Feb and 6.7pc in March last year. Meanwhile, - Inflation in the 16 countries using the euro remained at a record low of 0.6 percent in April, the European Unions Eurostat data agency said in a first estimate Thursday. The Eurostat figures leave 12-month eurozone inflation at the lowest point on records going back to 1996, at the same rate as in March but sharply down from the 1.2 percent that Eurostat booked in February. After hitting a record high of 4.0 percent last June and July, eurozone inflation has fallen sharply as oil and other commodity prices have collapsed in the face of a deep economic downturn. The chances remain high that eurozone consumer price inflation will see further falls over the next few months at least, Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight predicted. Although oil prices have come off their lows earlier this year, they remain massively below the peak levels of 147 dollars a barrel seen last July so base effects will remain favourable in the near-term, he added. Therefore, he said, the European Central Bank is expected to deliver another 25 basis point cut in its main refinancing rate from 1.25pc to 1.00pc. The ECB normally strives to keep inflation within its comfort zone defined as an annual rate close to but less than 2.0 percent.