ECONOMY

Recession shrinks to 3 pct in Q3, jobless rate stays put

The Finance Ministry’s upward revision of the country’s gross domestic product for this year was vindicated on Thursday by the official data on the course of the economy in the third quarter of 2013, with the contraction reduced to 3 percent of GDP, while unemployment remained stable in August and showed some signs of decline in September figures.

The data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) showed that the target for a 4 percent contraction for the whole of 2013 is realistic, as in the first three quarters, GDP shrank at an average rate of 4.06 percent. The ministry is optimistic that the contraction rate might actually end the year at 3.8 percent, thanks to the better-than-anticipated contribution of tourism to the year’s fiscal data.

GDP grew by 5.3 percent in the July-September period from the second quarter of the year to reach 43.5 billion euros. However, regardless of the improvement and the positive prospects for Greece’s economy, the country has not posted such a low GDP in the summer months since 2001.

The original target had been for a 4.5 percent contracti, which in September was revised by both Athens and its creditors to 4 percent, ahead of a 0.6 percent rebound expected for 2014. This improvement in GDP data also constitutes a major bargaining tool for the government.

Unemployment stopped growing in August, according to ELSTAT’s seasonally adjusted index, staying put at the 27.3 percent rate recorded in July, but rising from the August 2012 rate of 25.5 percent. The number of unemployed amounted to 1,365,406 people. In the 18-24 age group, the jobless rate now stands at 60.6 percent.

However, the September data issued on Thursday by the Manpower Organization (OAED) on the number of registered unemployed (including those seeking employment, those who are not, and the jobless who get some subsidized employment) showed a decline of 18,270 people, or 1.6 percent, from August.