ECONOMY

Unemployment among Greek youth is 26 pct

BRUSSELS – Unemployment in Greece remained much higher than the European Union average, according to figures released by Eurostat on Tuesday. The figures are not directly comparable, however, because as usual, Greece’s statistics agency is unable to provide up-to-date data. At least, the gap has shrunk: Whereas Greece, until recently, was almost a year behind its EU partners in unveiling unemployment statistics, it is now behind by a mere two months. Thus, the latest unemployment figures for Greece are from September, while the figures released for other countries are from November. The EU average unemployment rate is 7.7 percent of its work force, while Greece’s unemployment rate is unchanged from August, at 9.9 percent. This rate is the second highest in Europe, behind perennial leader Spain. The eurozone average is 8.4 percent, higher than the EU average, because low-unemployment UK is not a eurozone member. Luxembourg has the lowest unemployment rate among European countries (2.6 percent). The Netherlands, where unemployment soared to over 15 percent in the mid-1980s, has reduced its rate to 2.9 percent. Spain’s rate is at 11.8 percent, half of what it was 10 years ago. Greece’s unemployment rate peaked at 12.2 percent in 1999. Of especial concern in Greece’s case is unemployment among the young, those aged up to 25. Within this group, only 26 percent are part of the work force. The remaining 74 percent of people up to age 25 are not working – presumably because they are still studying, doing their military service or have otherwise not sought to enter the work force. Among those who have entered the work force (the aforementioned 26 percent) 26 percent are unemployed. This rate is the second highest in Europe, behind Italy’s. Among young women, the unemployment rate is 33.7 percent, the highest in Europe. Only 22 percent of young women are part of the work force. As the European Commission observes in its report on Greece’s economy, released yesterday, Greece has long delayed much-needed reforms that would have reduced unemployment. Spending is high, but not very productive. Too much money goes on servicing a huge public debt.