New moves on unemployment

The government announced on Tuesday that it is preparing a new program to contain unemployment, as the numbers of jobless continued to rise in July.

The program will run from this September until August 2012. It will cost 2.7 billion euros and concern 600,000 people with or without jobs, numbers that may expand to 3.9 billion euros and 700,000 people if successful. Half of the funds of the program will go toward maintaining the jobs of 300,000 people, a quarter will go for the employment of some 150,000 and the rest for the training of another 150,000 people.

?None of the unemployed to benefit will owe anything to any deputies. Certain fellow deputies, certain mayors and certain people from non-government organizations need to realize that they cannot toy with the anxiety of the jobless in order to serve their own,? said Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis in Parliament.

The news came as the number of those registered at the Manpower Organization (OAED) reached 699,658 in July, climbing by 1.82 percent from June despite the summer factor that always generates seasonal jobs.

There were 12,485 new names in the unemployment register of the organization last month, with the greater increase seen in Crete, rather surprisingly given the increased tourism on the island.

OAED data further show that the announcements of new hirings went down by 19.86 percent in July compared to June, and by 12.07 percent from July 2010. Long-term unemployed increased by 7,949 people, or 2.88 percent in July, from the previous month.

Besides the social aspect of unemployment, Koutroumanis highlighted the shortage in contributions to social security funds. He said that the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and OAED have suffered losses of about 3.3 billion euros owing to increased needs for unemployment benefits and the reduction in social security contributions.

Meanwhile, the number of full-time contracts turning unilaterally (on the employer?s decision only) into part-time ones increased by 5,521 percent in the first six months of the year, from the same period in 2010. There was also an increase of 476.7 percent rise in agreed contract transformations.