ECONOMY

Joblessness dips below 9 pct

Greece’s unemployment rate fell one full percentage point to 8.9 percent in the second quarter, helped by the country’s higher economic growth to match the eurozone’s overall jobless rate. Greece’s National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday that it was the lowest unemployment rate since it began its quarterly surveys. The jobless rate was 9.6 percent in the same period last year and 9.9 percent in the first quarter of 2003. The figures were based on a sample survey of the country’s labor force, conducted in accordance with the rules of EU statistics agency Eurostat. «In total, since 2000, the drop in unemployment was of the order of 100,000 people,» the NSS said. The jobless rate for men was 5.7 percent compared with 13.6 percent for women. The 12 countries sharing the euro currency had an overall jobless rate of 8.9 percent in June, unchanged from May but up from 8.4 percent in June 2002. Spain had the highest unemployment rate at 11.4 percent. Since the second quarter of 2000, Greece’s unemployment rate has dropped by 2.2 percentage points as its 150-billion-euro economy has been growing at rates close to 4.0 percent. The NSS said 39.8 percent of the registered unemployed were looking exclusively for full-time work with 48.5 percent willing to work part-time. The long-term unemployed, defined by the NSS as individuals out of work for longer than 12 months, made up 58.5 percent of the total number of jobless Greeks, indicating that structural unemployment remains a problem despite an expanding economy. Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, is projected to grow at a 3.8 percent clip this year. (Reuters)