ECONOMY

Ministry snubs criticism over unemployment

The Labor and Social Security Ministry yesterday refuted charges that unemployment now stands higher than at the same time last year. According to data by the National Statistics Service (NSS) cited in a statement, unemployment in March stood at 11.3 percent, the same rate as for the first quarter of 2004. The number of registered unemployed in February 2005 was down 2.4 percent, year-on-year, at 536,571, the statement said. The ministry attributed recent criticism regarding unemployment data to «clumsy efforts at misinterpretation through the selective reading of certain indicators.» Fighting unemployment and enhancing the number of registered workers is a national priority for the government, the statement said. It attributed the high, 11.3 percent unemployment rate for March to «the generally acknowledged inability of past PASOK governments to convert the really high growth rates which the country achieved (mainly due to the construction activity for the Olympic Games) into high employment growth rates.» Dealing with the problem, the statement said, «requires above all a climate of consensus at the political and social level and processes of social dialogue at all levels.» Further, it said that Eurostat data showed that the average unemployment rate in the eurozone fell just 0.1 percent between January 2004 and January 2005, but a full 1.2 percent in Greece. According to a recently introduced registration system, 15.46 percent of the unemployed do not wish to be placed in a job. Statistical data concerning registered unemployment are available at www.paep.org.gr.