Unemployment growth is slowing down

Unemployment continued to grow in April, climbing to 26.9 percent from 26.8 percent in March, though it is showing signs of slowing down after three years of rapid increases that saw it grow by 15 percentage points, according to official figures released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Thursday.

The number of the jobless reached 1,337,621 in April. In the same month last year the rate had stood at 23.1 percent.

However, the number of people in employment in April increased from March by 1.2 percent, or 43,668 people. The rate of young people aged between 15 and 24 without a job reached 57.5 percent in April, representing four in every seven.

In contrast to forecasts by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) earlier this week suggesting that unemployment will average at 27.8 percent this year, Alpha Bank said in its weekly economic bulletin on Thursday that not all is bleak in the labor market.

According to the bulletin, the employment situation in the country is stabilizing, mainly thanks to the rise in tourism arrivals. Alpha goes on to cite the positive effects of that rise on sectors related to tourism, as well as rekindled activity in construction and in some industrial and agricultural sectors that are already export-oriented and that contribute to the rise in employee hirings and in the net growth of salaried employment in the private sector.

The Alpha report adds that the difference between hirings and sackings in the year to June increased by 71,200 hirings compared to the same period in 2012. This was almost entirely thanks to a rise in hirings by 69,200 in the first half of 2013.

The jobless rate is expected to dip from May onward, as, besides tourism, employment schemes launched by the Labor Ministry in May and June and expected to last for at least five months, bear fruit.

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