Unemployment continues to soar despite measures

Greece?s unemployment rate continued to rise unabated in April, despite measures taken by the previous government to contain it, as it climbed to 22.5 percent from 22 percent in the previous month, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). In April 2011 it had stood at 16.2 percent.

The data released on Thursday showed that the jobless total hit 1,109,658 people, while the economically inactive population came to 3,360,717. That left just 3,813,601 people with a job in April, the first month of the Greek tourism season, which was 332,535 fewer than in April 2011.

The figures are raising serious concern both in Greece and abroad as they show that the government?s limited attempts to open up the labor market and the forced reductions in salaries have done nothing to ease the job crisis in the country. In April there were 12,827 more unemployed people than in March.

The new government is expected to use Greece?s record-high unemployment figures as a negotiating weapon in its effort to win concessions regarding the austerity measures imposed on the country by its creditors in a period of protracted recession.

In a bid to rekindle growth in the private sector and stem job losses, the government pledged yesterday to pay most of its debts to companies by the end of the year.

Deputy Development Minister Thanassis Skordas stated that 4 billion out of the 6.8 billion euros the state owes in value-added tax returns will be paid by the year?s end for the market to ?breathe.? He added that cash flow is one of the main issues the ministry is working on.

He also announced that the Development Ministry will save some 800,000 euros per year by transferring the General Secretariat for Industry, which is currently located in a leased building, to the premises used by the General Secretariat for Commerce in Kaningos Square, near Omonia.

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