BUSINESS

Unemployment, retail prices appear to be falling

Jobless rate slipped below 27 pct, deflation ongoing for 13th month

The signs of an economic rebound are becoming increasingly tangible among the general population, as the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Thursday that the jobless figure has finally started to decline while retail prices fell in March for the 13th consecutive month.

The number of unemployed people in Greece fell by 17,446 in January from December 2013, with the jobless rate coming to 26.7 percent compared with 27.2 percent in the last month of 2013. However, the rate still posted a small rise on an annual basis, as in January 2013 the unemployed accounted for 26.5 percent of the work force. Notably, the jobless rate among people aged up to 24 declined to 56.8 percent in January from 60.4 percent a year earlier.

In the period from January 2013 to January 2014 the number of people without a job increased by just over 6,800 to reach 1,317,848 – i.e. a 0.5 percent rise – while the number of employed people fell 14,913 in the same period and the financially inactive expanded by 9,120.

A serious problem is that the majority of jobless people are not entitled to unemployment benefits from the Manpower Organization (OAED). Out of 1.31 million jobless, just 157,921 people appear to have received their unemployment benefits from OAED in February 2014.

ELSTAT also said that deflation persisted for a 13th straight month in March, amounting to 1.3 percent, as prices continue to drop to the benefit of consumers, although there is still a trend toward growth in the prices of commodities such as dairy products and eggs, which climbed 2.4 percent year-on-year. There was also a rise in the prices of wine, cigarettes and medicines – the latter due to the fact that those insured with social security funds now have to make a greater contribution at pharmacies.

Among the categories with the biggest price drop in March were education – thanks to the decrease in fees charged by private schools and foreign language institutes – hairdressers and barbers, as well as car insurance policies.

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