Jobless rate soars to record high

Over a quarter of a million people have lost their jobs within the last year as the unemployment rate climbed to 17.7 percent in the third quarter of the year from 12.4 percent in the same period in 2010, data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) showed on Thursday.

In the last 12 months, the number of unemployed soared by 256,328 people, with the worst-affected sectors being construction, wholesale and retail commerce, manufacturing and agriculture.

ELSTAT data showed that the jobless figure in the July-September period came to 878,266, taking the total rate for the year?s first nine months to 16.6 percent. The forecast for the whole of the year now stands at 17 percent.

The situation is expected to get worse from next year, with the rate soaring to 19 percent in 2012 and 19.5 percent in 2013, the statistics service estimated, before it starts declining in 2014 to 18.8 percent and in 2015 to 18 percent. It is seen returning to this year?s levels in five years? time and coming down to 13.1 percent by 2020.

The third quarter?s 17.7 percent rate is the highest since jobless figures were first recorded on a quarterly basis in 1998. The worst aspect of the phenomenon is that those who lose their jobs face a tough time returning to the labor market, as the long-term unemployed (those who have not worked for at least a year) constitute 53.2 percent of the total jobless figure.

Young people still have the biggest problems finding work, with 35.5 percent of those aged between 15 and 29 being unable to find a job. Women also suffer considerably as their jobless rate amounts to 21.5 percent, while young women are the group with the highest unemployment rate, at 40.8 percent.

Western Macedonia remains the region with the largest percentage of unemployed (22.3 percent), followed by Thrace (19.7 percent). In terms of education level, the group with the highest unemployment rate comprises those who have not gone to school at all (25.1 percent), while those with a university degree are also in trouble, as 20.1 percent of them are currently without work.

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