BERLIN: Many consumers in Europe are now more confident about the economy and their own purchasing power, according to a new study.

GfK, the research firm, surveyed 13,200 adults in 11 countries across the region, including France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 

It reported that unemployment was the issue causing the most anxiety in eight of the nations assessed.

Some 43% of the sample said they were concerned about this matter, an increase of 4% from a similar poll undertaken last year.

Three-quarters of the panel in Spain, two-thirds of their counterparts in Germany and a majority of respondents in France also had a negative outlook regarding the condition of the labour market.

Elsewhere, 40% of participants in Austria and Poland said the climate was improving in this area, falling to 33% in Sweden and Belgium, 16% in the UK and 8% in the Netherlands.

Inflation and declining purchasing power took second place among the subjects generating widespread unease, although they were only mentioned by 18% of contributors.

This problem was a particular cause of anxiety in Russia, where it was cited by 33% of the sample, perhaps unsurprisingly given the domestic rate of inflation stood at 11.7% for 2009.

Around a quarter of people in France and Germany viewed the restrictions on their budgets resulting from rising prices as a source of disquiet.

However, totals on this measure stood at a much less substantial 3% in the UK and the Netherlands and 2% in Spain and Sweden.

Just 16% of Europeans were worried about the prospects for the economy as a whole, peaking at 31% in Spain and 26% in Germany.

Less positively, levels of apprehension tied to issues like healthcare, crime, immigration and social security were growing in several countries.

"What is remarkable this year is that the number of concerns expressed has rocketed," Raimund Wildner, the managing director and vice chairman of the GfK Association, said.

"In fact, I can hardly recall such a quantum leap before, at least not in the past 20 years."

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff