ECONOMY

Jobless rate at 15.9 pct in Q1

Unemployment soared to 15.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, from 14.2 percent in the previous quarter and 11.7 percent in the first three months of 2010, according to data released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

The number of people employed declined by 2.4 percent on a quarterly basis and 5.2 percent on an annual basis, to 4,194,429. Unemployment is considerably higher among women than men (19.5 percent against 13.3 percent), while the age bracket with the biggest jobless rate is 15-29-year-olds, at 30.9 percent.

Among women in that age group, the rate soars to 35.8 percent. Unemployment is higher among foreign nationals (19.8 percent) than Greek citizens (15.5 percent).

Some 73.3 percent of foreigners are active in the labor market, against just 52 percent of the Greeks.

The regions with the highest jobless levels are Southern Aegean (24.3 percent) and Western Macedonia (22.3 percent). The lowest rate is in the Peloponnese, at 12.4 percent.