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Greece unemployment rate hit 26.8 percent in October

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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras arrives at the Finance and Development Ministry in Athens for a meeting with the Development minister, January 9, 2013.

New official data show that Greece’s unemployment rate increased to 26.8 percent in October as the eurozone country witnesses a sixth year of recession.

“Unemployment in October 2012 was 26.8 percent, compared with 19.7 percent in October 2011,” the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Service said in a statement on Thursday.

The agency recorded 1.3 million unemployed Greeks in October 2012, but Greek trade unions say many others are out-of-work. Over the period of October 2011-2012, some 368,000 people registered as job seekers.

Jobless levels in Greece are the highest recorded in the eurozone. Last year’s October rate broke every record that the state statistics agency had recorded since it began monthly reports in 2004.

Unemployment among 15 to 24 year olds went up to 56.6 percent. The figure had been standing at 46.7 percent a year earlier.

The European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have pushed Athens to implement spending cuts and tax hikes in return for a bailout. Many businesses have consequently had to make cutbacks and tens of thousands of others have shut down.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday that the government aims to increase job availability in 2013.

However, according to a prediction by the Bank of Greece on December 3, the country’s economy will drop by 4.5 percent this year and the jobless rate will exceed 26 percent in both 2013 and 2014.

European countries plunged into a financial crisis in 2008, forcing EU governments to adopt tough economic reforms to cap their worsening debt crises. The measures have sparked many angry protests across the continent.

Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and, experiencing its sixth year of recession and grappling with harsh austerity measures.


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