ECONOMY

December jobless rate rises to 8.9 pct

Greece’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in December from 7.8 percent in November as the economy cools to its slowest pace since the country joined the eurozone. Figures from the National Statistics Service (NSS) yesterday showed unemployment stood at the same level as in December 2007, when it was also 8.9 percent. Monthly data are not seasonally adjusted. Greek unemployment normally rises in December due to a slowdown in construction and tourism activity. The eurozone jobless rate stood at 8.1 percent for the same period. The jobless rate in the 15-24 age group was 26.3 percent in December. It stood at 12.2 percent among women. Job cuts have been rising recently as the economy slows under the weight of the financial crisis, harming business and consumer expectations. Data released earlier this week showed gross domestic product increased 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. The European Commission expects the Greek economy to grow at an annual 0.2 percent pace this year, slowing sharply from 2.9 percent in 2008. Economists see further job cuts in coming months, with the unemployment rate expected to hit levels of 9.3 percent or higher by the end of June.