Jobless rate working its way up

Credit growth and industrial output continued their downward course

Unemployment keeps increasing in Greece as the recession continues to bite, climbing to 21.7 percent in February, while other data showed negative credit growth in the same month and a further decline in industrial output in March, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). However, Greek exports picked up the pace of expansion in March.

The jobless rate continued to climb, after hitting 21.3 percent in January after having stood at 15.2 percent as recently as February 2011. Worse, according to non-seasonally adjusted data, the rate is close to 23 percent. The number of unemployed increased to 1,070,724 people.

Also in February, credit expansion was negative to the tune of -1.4 percent. In the January-March period property transactions declined by 54 percent on an annual basis, the Bank of Greece reported on Thursday.

The General Index of Industrial Output deteriorated in March and in the first quarter of the year. ELSTAT data showed an 8.5 percent annual decline in March, after an 8.1 percent respective drop in March 2011 from the year before. On a quarterly basis, output fell by 7.6 percent in the January-March period from the same time in 2011.

On a much more positive note though, exports returned to their course of acceleration in March after a period of slowdown in growth from end-2011 to February 2012. Exporters attribute the 15.8 percent increase on a yearly level to the fact that in March it was the pre-Easter period for Catholics and Orthodox alike.

ELSTAT figures showed that the total value of exports (not including oil products) came to 1.56 billion euros, up from 1.35 billion in March 2011. In the April 2011 - March 2012 period exports posted a 7.7 percent increase from the year before.

Imports declined by 6.6 percent in March year-on-year to reach 2.91 billion euros, against 3.11 billion in the same month last year.