The Labor and Social Security Ministry said yesterday it plans to launch two programs via the Manpower Organization (OAED) next year which will offer incentives totaling 132 million euros to companies to encourage them to take on 25,000 unemployed and to women and the under-25s to set up their own businesses. The two schemes are in addition to three new programs unveiled last month which are due to kick off next year and aim to create close to 63,000 jobs for women, the young and the long-term unemployed. The job-creation programs are in line with the government’s goal of generating 300,000 jobs over the 2000-2004 period. Up to 160,000 jobs have been created to date. Greece’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the eurozone. While the number of jobless fell to single-digit levels in the second quarter of the year (the first time since 1997), the 9.6 percent rate was the second highest in the eurozone. According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical service, Greece ranked second in unemployment among women and those under 25 in eurozone member states in June. The two programs announced yesterday are intended to create 25,000 places for the long-term unemployed, women and those under 25, and to assist 10,000 people in forming their own businesses. Businesses taking on the long-term unemployed, who have been registered on OAED’s jobless list for between six and 12 months, will receive a daily subsidy of 14.70 euros for a year on the condition that they maintain the same work force for another six months. Priority will be given to companies which have maintained or increased their work force in the last three years and those which have previously taken part in state-subsidized job-creation schemes. The program for the self-employed is aimed principally at women and the under-25s, who can apply for a 7,400 euro subsidy to help them become entrepreneurs.