ECONOMY

Unemployment rises to near record of 27.4 percent in September

Greece’s jobless rate remained stuck near record highs in September, but the first signs appeared that the pace of job losses was slowing, data showed on Wednesday.

Unemployment inched up to 27.4 percent from 27.3 percent in the previous two months, as the labor market continues to suffer amid the country’s austerity-fuelled economic slump.

“The data shows a stabilization trend in the jobless rate and a slowdown in new job losses, helped by a strong performance in tourism,” said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank. The decline in the number of those employed was the lowest since early 2010, he said.

Joblessness is a major headache for Greece’s government as it scrambles to hit fiscal targets and carry out structural reforms demanded by its international creditors to secure its remaining bailout funding.

Unemployment was more than twice the eurozone average of 11.6 percent in September and just below the record 27.5 percent recorded in May. The overall unemployment rate has more than tripled since 2008, the start of a six-year recession which has wiped out about a quarter of Greece’s gross domestic product.

Correcting Greece’s economic imbalances has come at a very high cost. Those aged 15 to 24 remain the hardest-hit: excluding students and military conscripts, their jobless rate registered 51.9 percent.

With the recession in its sixth straight year and 1.37 million people officially out of work, the pain is widespread. Borrowers are falling behind on loans and fewer workers are paying into state pension funds. A turnaround will take time, even if recovery sets in next year as authorities project.

[Reuters]