Greek unemployment hits record high as poverty spreads

Thursday 14 February 2013 16.54
61.7% of young people in Greece now unemployed
61.7% of young people in Greece now unemployed

Unemployment in Greece rose to a record 27% in November.

Separate surveys today showed the country remains stuck in recession and predicted nearly a third of the population would be in poverty by the end of the year.

Greece's Statistics Agency said unemployment increased from a rate of 26.6% in October and 20.8% in November the previous year.

More than 30,000 people lost their job in November, the agency said, with the jobless rate accelerating from earlier in the year.

Worst affected are the young, with 61.7% of adults under the age of 24 without a job.

Greece is mired in the sixth year of a recession, and has been relying for nearly three years on international rescue loans to keep it afloat.

In return for the bailout, the government has imposed major spending cuts and tax hikes which have hammered the economy, causing an increase in poverty and forcing thousands of businesses to close.

The economy contracted a further 6% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from the previous year, the statistics agency said today. That followed annual contractions of 6.7%, 6.4% and 6.7% in the previous three quarters of 2012.

New tax hikes that went into effect this month have added further pressure on the shrinking workforce: 3.6 million Greeks remain employed, but 3.3 million are registered as inactive and 1.35 million are unemployed, according to the November figures.

A study by Greece's largest labour union, GSEE, released this week projected that 3.9 million out of Greece's total population of nearly 11 million will be officially living in poverty by the end of the year, compared with 3.1 million in 2011.

The poverty line in Greece is set at a personal income of less than €7,200 a year.

Unions have called a general strike for February 20, protesting against the new tax hikes and a government decision to ax collective wage agreements in the public sector as part of an overhaul in pay scales for state-paid employees.