Jobless rate 9.1 percent in February

Greece’s unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent in February from 9.4 percent in the previous month but was sharply higher than a year earlier, data from the National Statistical Service (NSS) showed yesterday. Unemployment, which stood at 8 percent in February a year ago, has been rising on an annual basis as the slowing economy takes its toll on the job market. Economists said February’s dip does not reflect a change in the upward trend of jobless numbers. «The unemployment rate, even if it dropped marginally in February, continues to rise on an annual basis, reflecting a drop in employment,» said Nikos Magginas, an economist with National Bank of Greece, Reuters reported. Unemployment among the 16 countries using the euro stood at 8.7 percent in February. According to the European Commission, Greece’s jobless numbers are expected to reach 9.1 percent from 2009, up from 7.7 percent last year, before moving up to 9.7 percent in 2010. Greece’s largest private sector labor group the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) said the real figure stands above February’s 9.1 percent number, hitting women and young Greeks hardest. «Despite the 28 billion euros handed to banks to boost the real economy, there has been no positive impact for workers,» it said in a statement. «Job cuts, unemployment and four-day weeks… continue and are becoming more common,» it added. The jobless rate for 25- to 34-year-olds in February reached 12.5 percent, while 12.3 percent of women were looking for work nationwide versus 7 percent of men, NSS data showed. The government announced in April a 2.5-billion-euro package to subsidize jobs in an effort to stem rising jobless numbers. The conservative government said it will subsidize existing jobs and public sector hirings in a bid to support young people and those working in tourism, construction and small businesses.

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