Jobless rate breaks new record

More than 350,000 jobs have been lost within a year, as the unemployment rate for August stood at a record level of 18.4 percent, according to data released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

Despite the beneficial effect of seasonal jobs in the tourism sector, the jobless figure climbed to 907,953 in August. This constitutes an increase of 364,353 from August 2010, when the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent.

If the growth rate of unemployment maintains the pace of over 2 percent per month – as it grew from 16.5 percent in July – it is almost certain that it will exceed 20 percent for the whole of the year on average. The European Commission issued a forecast for the Greek jobless rate to end the year at 18.4 percent.

The total figure for employed people in August came to 4,034,537, while the financially inactive population rose to 4,403,503. In the last three years the labor market has shrunk by 574,242 jobs.

Even large, wealthy companies have been forced to cut jobs, such as steel giant Hellenic Halyvourgia, as a result of its considerable loan obligations. Halyvourgia has just sacked 37 people after it was unable to persuade employees at its Aspropyrgos plant to accept part-time work. Worse, big pharmaceuticals firm Alapis, owned by Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, whose assets have been frozen in an ongoing probe, has some 1,400 employees stuck in a state of limbo.