Unemployment rises to 9.1 pct in Q1 but improves compared to same period last year

Greece’s unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent in the first quarter from 8.8 percent in the last three months of 2006, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Year-on-year the jobless rate improved from 9.7 percent in first quarter of 2006, the NSS said, without commenting on the rise of the jobless compared to the last quarter of last year. Unemployment is a top economic worry in successive public opinion polls and is certain to be on the minds of voters as elections loom, possibly as early as this autumn. Despite Greece’s strong economic growth, joblessness remains higher than the eurozone average, a sign that a large part of it is structural. Unemployment in the 13-member eurozone fell to a record low 7.1 percent in April, according to European Union statistics office Eurostat. Greece’s economy, projected to expand by 3.9 percent this year, grew at a faster-than-expected 4.6 percent pace in the first quarter. The NSS said there were 445,560 people officially unemployed in Greece. It also estimated that 4.46 million people had jobs. It said unemployment had been steadily declining from a rate of 11.3 percent in the first quarter in 2004, the year Greece hosted the Olympic Games. Joblessness continued to affect women more than men. In the first quarter, unemployment in the female population was 13.9 percent compared to 5.7 percent for men. It was a more severe 18.2 percent for people in the 15-29 age group. The long-term unemployed, people out of work for more than 12 months, made up 49 percent of the jobless pool, the NSS said. (Reuters)

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