Jobless rate is down to 8.8 percent; women more likely to be out of work

The unemployment rate was reduced to 8.8 percent of the work force in the third quarter of 2003, according to data released yesterday by the National Statistics Service. This is a definite improvement from the same period in 2002, when the rate was 9.5 percent. Unemployment has been slowly declining in Greece since it peaked at 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999. Given the country’s strong economic growth, which, according to the NSS, reached a 25-year high of 4.7 percent last year, the decline in the jobless rate is considered too slow. Opponents of the present government have criticized the NSS for producing what they call doctored data. They cite a recent report by the Human Resources Organization (OAED) saying that the number of those demanding employment correspond to a jobless rate of 12.1 percent. OAED figures are higher than those of the NSS because they are raw data and do not allow for seasonal variations in employment. The unemployment rate for men is 5.5 percent and for women, 13.7 percent, NSS data show.