Greek jobless rate drops to 7.9 pct

Greece’s unemployment rate eased to 7.9 percent in October from 8.3 percent in September due to seasonal factors, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Unemployment was 7.7 percent in October 2006, the NSS said. Despite stronger economic growth of 3.8 percent in the third quarter last year, Greece’s jobless rate is higher than the eurozone’s average of 7.2 percent. The NSS said there were 387,743 officially unemployed in October, while an estimated 4.54 million people had jobs. «Monthly data on unemployment show a higher seasonality but the pattern is very similar to the fluctuations seen in 2006. «After the summer months, more people return to work and hiring increases,» said an NSS official, who declined to be named. Greece’s unemployment rate has been steadily declining since 2004. In October of that year it was 9.8 percent, the NSS said. The data are not seasonally adjusted. Economists said the fall in the jobless rate from September reflected, in part, job growth in the retail sector. «We expect average unemployment in 2007 will be lower by about 1.4 percent than in 2006,» said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank. Unemployment continued to affect women more than men. In October unemployment in the female population was 12.4 percent compared to 4.7 percent for men. It was much higher for people in the 15-24 age group – 21.9 percent. (Reuters)